What’s Next, Seniors? P5: Gap Years

Gillian Ward

For many high school students, just completing their final assignments to graduate requires major mental effort. So the question of what comes after can be extremely intimidating. There are many paths to consider for after high school. Post- high school options include trade school, the armed forces, the workforce, a gap year, a community college, or university; It is important for a blossoming adult to weigh the advantages and disadvantages that come with all post- high school options.
Gap Years
A gap year is often thought of as a lazy year where ambition is lost and dreams of college are put out. However, The article “Could a Gap Year after High school Make Financial Sense?” from Huffington Post calls gap years, “…a chance for recent high school graduates to earn money to help pay for school, challenge themselves, explore the world, and build their resumes while experimenting with different career paths.” Yes, gap years are quite popular in other countries, and Americans are starting to be more accepting of gap years. There are many benefits to be reaped during a gap year, and the article even states that “… colleges report that students who start school after a gap year tend to earn higher grades, are more involved with campus life and graduate within four years at a higher rate than their non-gap-year peers.” During a gap year, a high school graduate can mature, travel, work, volunteer, and grow as a person not suppressed by the walls of high school. Gap years can help you decide what you really want to study at college and university, which can help save money and time later on when one would change majors or take unnecessary classes.
Surprisingly, there are actually formal programs that provide help in structuring your gap year to help you figure out how to achiever your personal, academic, and career goals. The article “Could a Gap Year after High school Make Financial Sense?” from Huffington Post mentions the American Gap Association (AGA) as one of these programs, and that “…over 80 percent of gap year students say the skills they acquired helped them be successful in their career after school.” The AGA also provides assistance in finding ways to fund your gap year. The same article also states that “The AGA maintains a list of financial aid opportunities that can help you fund a gap year. The mix of merit- and need-based scholarships could cover the cost of a program or offset the cost of traveling or volunteering.”
Everyone is Different 
Everyone is different, and one post-highschool path isn’t right for everyone. There are so many choices for young people to make at this culminating time of their lives, so wether you decide to continue your education, learn a trade, join the military, take a gap year, or join the workforce, it is very important to know and weigh the benefits and downfalls of each one.