Don’t Fear the Gap Year


Air Academy graduate Julia Helle poses with a snake during her gap year in Australia.

Society has created a stigma that all 18-year-old kids need to know exactly what they want to be for the rest of their lives. When the average high school student has been bound to the walls of their schools or town with little world exposure. Gap years provide an endless platform of opportunities for a student’s intellectual horizon to broaden before college.

Travel opens your mind to the endless possibilities that this world has to offer and creates experiences that could shape a student’s perspective for life. As much as you can read about the 195 countries in this world, a first-hand experience is what shapes a person.

Even though statistics show that students who are undecided on a major tend to take gap years more often than students who have decided, both group could use the time for honest self-reflection.

“Sometimes kids need that extra time to discover what they want to do for the rest of their lives,” said AAHS college and career counselor Dr. Eric Beers.

Many students know their roles in high school, but what about who they are outside of school? This uncertainty can lead to impulsive decisions in regard to a student’s future.

Gap years provide a space for students to stop and observe life rather than be rushed right into the next level of academics. It is a time that is carved specifically for a student to focus on their expectations for themselves, not just for a school system.

Gap years go further than just the stereotype idea that they prolong a students start to college, but that they can play as assistance to getting accepted or paying for a university. There are a variety of colleges that honor students taking gap years and may offer additional scholarships. Situationally, depending on the college, first-year scholarships may be frozen or preserved for the following academic year if a student should take a gap year.

The local university Colorado College takes high consideration to students who have taken gap years and may give them a higher chance of being accepted or receiving scholarships.

Furthermore, many students aren’t even sure about their chosen degree and are unwilling to put all of their life savings into this gamble. It is no secret that college is expensive, but with a gap year, students can dedicate a year to saving for college by picking up extra shifts at work or even looking for internships in correlation with their potential degree.

With all being said, if a student is not driven to further their education immediately after school, there is no harm in a jump start in making their own income.

Dr. Beers said, “Even if [a student] doesn’t have solid plans for their gap year and works full time, it might be the very thing that [the student] needs to motivate them to go back to school.”

“90 percent of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year,” according to Gap Year Data.

Whether a student decides to take a leave of academic studies, attends a university, works a job, or studies abroad, time is their virtue. Every student has the power to make the right decision for themselves, whatever that looks like.

Life will always be about learning, and gap year just provides another avenue for this.

Even though a gap year seems like a very whimsical idea to many people, the potential in a whole year is limitless. The world is made up of 195 countries with plenty to see, and there is always money to be made.

Will you dare to explore the world before you go to college?