On The Fence About College? 3 Reasons A Gap Year May Be Your Answer
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pursuing a college education is truly rewarding and can prove highly beneficial for one’s personal and professional life. According to experts, the same rings true for those making the decision to take a break. Harvard actually encourages students to take a gap year, stating "Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way—provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College."
A well-planned and implemented college deferment period can be just what you need to gear up for completing that degree. Here’s why:
1. If you aren’t ready, you may not perform well. As research suggests, gap year participants perform better academically than students who choose a different path (Loftus, 2014).
Of course, if you are sure about starting college right away … go now and don’t read one more letter! But, if you aren’t ready to commit and enroll anyway, you can truly do yourself a disservice. College is tough and to perform well, you will need to put forth effort so tremendous that other things will have to be sacrificed. You will only truly sacrifice if you are ready to do so. Your failure to perform can obviously keep you from graduating and can also mean a loss of income, placement on academic probation, or even expulsion. And surely, those outcomes go against your entire purpose of going to school!
2. The experience may strengthen your financial future. A college degree in combination with real-life and work experience set a path to higher-level positions and greater salaries (Carroll & Higgins, 2014). A strong financial future will lead to many lifelong advantages and among those is a secure and happier you.
3. You can get a serious confidence boost. In an article titled, “ The value of a gap year”, it is noted that most who complete a gap year, actually feel an increased sense of self and purpose. When highlighting the benefits of a gap year, “Your Goals, Your Life, Your Gap Year” states, “Ultimately, and perhaps above all, it becomes an education in perspective, self-awareness, maturity, and confidence gained by taking learning outside of the classroom--an education that truly lasts a lifetime.”
You’ve got a big decision ahead of you, but it’s one that can put you on the great road to success. Take a breath, and the right answer for you will creep in before you know it.
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Carroll, D., & Higgins, A. (2014). A College Education Saddles Young Households with Debt, but Still Pays Off. Economic Trends (07482922), 11-12.
Loftus, M. (2014). The Value of a Gap Year. U.S. News Digital Weekly, 6(40), 11.
Sarouhan, J., & Sarouhan, J. (2013). Your Goals, Your Life, Your Gap Year. Collegexpress Magazine, 22.