Would You Want to Have a Gap Year After High School?

October 23, 2022


Cynthia Lan

Taking a gap year is a great opportunity to find yourself.

In some countries, young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies. While this “break” from school may have some negative effects, many benefits cannot be ignored. Graham Brown, an author has said, “Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” Taking a gap year is a great opportunity to find your own life goals in this era.

Travelling is common during a student’s gap year because they are able to visit a variety of places without having to worry about school or being on a rushed schedule. Travel can make people mature, responsible, and independent as they face certain challenges in dealing with different people and situations. Furthermore, they are exposed to a new environment, which helps them understand the diverse culture and society in which they live, which in turn makes them sensitive to people belonging to different religions. Not only do they get a better understanding of the lives of others, but they also have the opportunity to learn different languages ​​while traveling and being in different communities. 

I highly encourage a gap year for students who have majors that are difficult to find opportunities to study abroad.

— Ms. Harney (S)

Additionally, there may be students that will get a job and earn money for their families. Those things are really typical, such as working in In-N-Out or even starting up a small business! When the gap year comes to an end, the students who have a job may not want to go to school anymore, because now, they are more focused on making money and providing for themselves and their family. Those who do choose to go to school will have to find a balance between work and school.

Moreover, Ms. Waltemeyer (S), the Business teacher at YLHS explained, “I think for some people a gap year can benefit them; however, you still need to have a plan for that gap year. I am personally happy that I went straight into a four-year university after I graduated high school.” She mentioned that she used her summer to travel to Italy and hang out with high school friends before going to college, and also work with her father to gain work experience. Nevertheless, she adds, “had I chosen to have a gap year instead of going straight to college, I would have used the first half of that year to work or perhaps find a paid internship. I would save as much money as possible toward my savings account while also putting some money aside for future traveling purposes. Traveling opportunities would be a reward/goal to work toward. I would use that year to explore and verify my career goals and aspirations. Networking and finding ways to interview people in industries I’m interested in would also help me determine my future goals. I would also take that time to solidify the colleges/universities I am interested in and be sure to meet application deadlines for the following school year. Lastly, I would spend at least 3-4 months traveling abroad,” Ms. Waltemeyer added.

Though there are many benefits and life-changing experiences one can get from a gap year, taking time off can present some challenges. This is because they graduate later than their peers, which can make them feel left behind as their peers settle down after finishing their studies. Additionally, they may find it difficult to continue their studies after a one-year gap, so they may lose the focus and commitment needed to continue their studies, which could negatively impact their academic performance. Also, as a result, they may lose job opportunities in the future because, if not used wisely, they may not be able to account for the gap year and poor performance in school by the time they are supposed to graduate. Therefore, a gap year may present some obstacles to a student’s career.

Had I chosen to have a gap year instead of going straight to college, I would have used the first half of that year to work or perhaps find a paid internship.

— Ms. Waltemeyer (S)

Ms. Harney (S), the Activities Director at YLHS said, “Sitting in my office right now is a postcard from my dad. It was from his recent trip to Germany, where he took his gap year after high school. My dad was the first person to tell me about the idea of a “gap year” after high school. In his experience, he lived with a host family in Germany during the 1980s. My dad was able to learn a lot about another culture, practice his language skills, and make life-long friendships. Ms. Harney explained that she is a big supporter of studying abroad at the high school level and beyond. “There are so many opportunities to get out in the world and I think students should take full advantage of them. I remember when I was in the Peace Corps I met two women around my age from Turkey. They were two of the most humble, gracious people I had ever met. They told me about Turkey, a country I had never visited, and what they liked about it. I met them at a time when the United States and Turkey were having some conflict and I remember thinking that the world is a better place when people can make personal connections with each other across borders.” The idea of taking a gap year after high school was very scary to me. She added, “I had worries about taking a break from my academics, which made the idea of a gap year terrifying. Although I did not take a gap year, I took the opportunity to study abroad and I worked abroad after college. I think I made the right choice to not take a gap year and instead I integrated opportunities to go abroad at other times in my life. I highly encourage a gap year for students who have majors that are difficult to find opportunities to study abroad. When I was younger I heard advice from someone who said, “you might have other obligations in your life when you are older and you won’t be able to go abroad.” While this advice motivated me at the time, I don’t agree with it. There are so many opportunities to go abroad at all ages, but I do know that there is something truly special about learning about the world while you are young and still learning about yourself.”

In conclusion, it is true that the people who get the gap year will be absent for a while, but this year off may make them better people in life. In the long term, it is good to have a gap year when you have sufficient funds, but it is also important to not lose sight of your goals. You can wonder about what you want to learn in school, what your future is, find your desired goals, and live your life. It is clear that while people may encounter some obstacles in taking a year off after high school, they will also benefit greatly due to the broad and long-term benefits that the practice provides. If people really want to enrich their lives, they should not hesitate to take a gap year.


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