The end of high school is a scary and exhilarating moment. Faced with stepping in to the sitcom-worthy world of college, internships and tiny apartments is enough to warrant a moment of reflection in three simple words:
Am I ready?
Faced with this question, I decided I wasn’t. So I chose to take a gap year before attending college. I will be traveling throughout Asia for the year, going to Nepal, India and Thailand to volunteer and learn about the local culture.
As a very indecisive person, I really weighed the pros and cons, asking for advice from family and friends (and changing my mind many, many times). This process is very important if you’re considering taking a gap year before moving on to the next adventure. Make sure you ask yourself the right questions.
Why am I doing this?
There is no point in deferring if you’re going to spend a year playing video games and sleeping.
Use this time to do all the things you never had time to do because of homework or other extracurricular activities (if the time for building up an impressive application résumé is past, so go for it). Take up a new hobby, push another one further, volunteer, try out for an internship, or travel to really learn about another country. This year is about what you feel is right for you, not your parents or teachers, before becoming a busy adult who might regret not having taken this chance.
How am I doing this?
Gap years can come in all shapes and sizes, and with different budgets. If money is an issue there are many programs that allow you to stay with a host family while working so the costs aren’t excessive (check out the website www.workaway.info). Many people also work for the first half of the year in order to fund their plans for the second half.
You might consider traveling with friends or decide to fly solo. Gap years are a great opportunity to meet new people or strengthen the bonds between old friends.
How will a gap year benefit me?
Understandably, this makes many parents anxious, especially those who would have cause to believe their child would in fact be hoarding the couch to spend a year playing video games. Indeed, both parents and teen have to be in alignment and motivated to have a productive year for anything to work.
A gap year is an option not often available to those studying in France, as deferrals are rare. However, if your almost-adult has been accepted to a British, American or Canadian university, gap years are a great opportunity that should be considered. Studies show that students who have taken gap years perform better in college and university. If they challenge themselves during this time, they will gain confidence and experience that will benefit them for their whole life. Why not follow in the footsteps of successsful “gappers” such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Prince William and J.K.Rowling? Remember:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
– Neale Donald Walsch
Without realizing it, we all feel burnt out after high school and years of long hours in stuffy classrooms. It’s also important to shake the high school ‘mentality’. A year without tests, but still filled with hands-on learning is a great way to start fresh.
A gap year can re-ignite your flame and make you more confident, mature and thirsty for knowledge once you get to college.