For most people, the first half of their lives move on a set track. They experience childhood development, attend primary school, and then move up to middle and high schools. They take their SATs and apply to universities, all the while trying to ace their classes. During the latter half of their senior year, they figure out if they have gotten into any of the colleges they applied for. This gives them the validation that all their late nights and hard work have paid off.
If one is diligent, and at the same time, fortunate enough to succeed in their endeavours, they start preparing everything they need for their first year in university. Finances are checked, papers are prepared, and arrangements are made as they take a short break before delving into academics once again for four or five more years.
For others, this may not be the case. They may find that immediate entry to university is not for them. This is when a short break may evolve into a year-long one for select students. Some may be found enjoying themselves in foreign places. They may speak of traveling and their experience of staying in cheap hostels with private rooms in places like London and Barcelona. Others may be seen posting about their volunteer gigs, and how fulfilling it can be.
While some may believe that this is not a wise choice since this will just result in graduating university a year or so later, many students are still so drawn to the concept of taking a gap year. Why?
Break from Academics
One of the most popular reasons is that students wish to take a break from studying. Considering the years of continuous learning, shifting of grades, and numerous stressors, this is completely understandable.
While a year may seem too long for an academic break, people nowadays do not seem to run out of things to do in their spare time. There are students who use their leave from studies to grow their social following, which is likely to provide them with extra cash in the meantime. Others take up various activities that occur offline, like partying or traveling.
Some use their time off to better learn more about themselves, explore, and experiment. A gap year leaves a person with 365 (or 366) days to do everything they can ever imagine, which may include developing existing skills and learning new ones to add to their repertoire. Some attend foreign language classes, while others try their hand at something creative like painting or sculpting.
Moreover, they can also explore other career opportunities, and figure out if they are truly set on the program they originally applied. Having no other standing obligations allows people to ruminate on their choices.
Travel and Experience
Perhaps the most talked-about reason for taking a gap year is traveling. Many wish to experience their own versions of Eat, Pray, Love. They may dream of exploring streets unknown, trying out dishes that may be too exotic for their tastes, all the while hoping that they can meet someone who will be their summer fling. Regardless of the true reason behind their travels, getting the chance to visit other places may lead to further personal growth.
A gap year provides students with numerous opportunities to explore aspects of life that they may not have been able to while they were still in school. Taking that leap of faith and postponing studies may be more beneficial than one believes.