The Pros And Cons Of Taking A Gap Year

For some people, going to college right after high school graduation does not sound ideal, and that is perfectly okay! Taking a gap year (or a year off from school before starting heading to college) is starting to become a much more common occurrence. People chose to travel, work, volunteer, or whatever else fits their fancy during these 12 interim months! I took a gap year and loved every experience I was fortunate enough to have. That being said, taking a gap year, like anything else, comes with its pros and cons.

The Pros

1. You have time to learn what it is that you really love to do.

Taking a gap year means you have 12 extra months to fill up with doing whatever it is you want to do! Try out things that you’ve always been curious about – and who knows maybe you’ll discover a new career path to follow when you do decide to go to college. Whether your gap year plan consists of a detailed itinerary or is just a few jumbled ideas – go with it – that’s what this time is for!

2. You can take this time to challenge yourself and mentally prepare yourself for the future.

Personally, I think challenging yourself is one of the best things you can do for your own well-being.  Put yourself in new situations where you have to learn to adapt – this prepares you for life more than you know. While college is a great place for new experiences; without classes and exams holding you back – you can experience so much more outside of a university’s walls!

3. You have the opportunity to meet so many people if you make the effort.

This is particularly true if you decide to travel when taking a gap year. You will come across so many new and interesting people that will undoubtedly bring out some great conversations! Remember to keep an open mind.

4. It’s a great chance to learn a new skill.

Twelve months is a long time, so why not take this time to learn a new skill that could potentially help you down the line. If you’ve always been interested in photography, take a photography class and become a little more familiar with it. Maybe you’ll decide to become a photography major, and even if you don’t, you’ve got an extra skill to add to your resume! Meeting new people and facing new challenges will also provide you with social skills you probably didn’t have before, and that you will use for the rest of your life. The new people will allow you to communicate, tolerate, and understand other individuals while challenges will build your perseverance and work ethic.

5. You will rack up the experiences.

I hiked up 11,000 ft mountains passes and saw some of the most amazing sunsets when taking a gap year. Because you don’t really have anything holding you back or tying you down, you have the change to experience things  you might have never been able to do otherwise. They will be amazing and they will be scary, but you have the ability to learn so much from all these new things you do. Soak it up!

The Cons

1. FOMO (fear of missing out).

Because you’ve decide not to head off to college straight away, you will probably see all the pictures, or hear great stories of all the fun times your friends are having at school. It can be rough to look on social media and know you are missing out on these memories. Just keep in mind why you chose a gap year and realize that you are making your own great memories!

2. You might feel a little out of the loop.

You’re going to be busy being awesome, so you may miss out on things your friends are raving about at school: new music, TV shows, movies, Kardashian scandals, etc. No worries, friends! The internet and your local video store will still be there when your gap year is done!

3. You’ll probably have to make a few sacrifices.

Depending on what you choose to do, you might have to make some sacrifices. If you’re traveling, you might have to give up talking to family and friends every day. If you’re working, you might have to spend long hours with little relaxation time. You have to decide what you’re comfortable with giving up for a little bit…but honestly, most people away at college are doing the same!

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4. You’ll take on a variety of new stresses.

Whatever you are doing, at one point or another, you will get stressed out (it’s life)! The new people, new places, and new responsibilities will cause your hair to frizz and your shoulders to tense. It will all be okay! Remember to take a deep breath when such times arise and continue doing your best.

5. There’s that constant fear of the unknown.

Taking a gap year can be extremely frightening! So many questions and doubts will run through your mind: What if I don’t make friends? What if I don’t figure out what I want to do with my life during this time? What if I realize I made the wrong choice? These questions are healthy! New situations are scary, you just need to be prepared for them.

I have experienced each of the pros and cons when taking a gap year. Each day was full of new challenges and sights that I will never forget. I loved the amazing people I met and cherish the great memories I had with them. My gap year was the most amazing time and has prepared me with skills and lessons that help me every day. Good luck on your gap year adventures!

What experiences did you gain from taking a gap year? Let us know down below!
Featured image source: lifeoftravelling.
Michala Salazar

Michala is a student at Purdue University. She mainly likes traveling, writing, and film making. Her goal in life is to do cool things with cool people. She also has a blog, called Mountains and Valleys Blog, where she tries to write about the cool things she does.

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