North Texas Daily

Gap years don’t determine a student’s work ethic

Gap years don’t determine a student’s work ethic

Gap years don’t determine a student’s work ethic
October 07
10:00 2022

As the dust settles from the COVID-19 pandemic and college students across the United States are falling back into their normal routines, one phenomenon that has evolved throughout the pandemic has been unchanged. 

Gap years have historically been untouchable and give off a semblance of immaturity. However, taking a gap year has been proven to offer significant benefits, and icing out this path entirely without acknowledging the potential gain only furthers the pressures on college students and recent graduates.

As soon as someone inserts the words ‘gap year’ into a conversation, thoughts of year-long vacations immediately become tied to the person. Gap years have become synonymous with an extended recess following graduation — a perfect symbol of stalling the responsibilities of adulthood. Even throughout media, gap years are taken by people who are conveyed as immature, irresponsible and ungrounded.

These depictions of gap years have made taking a break from school taboo, and despite the many benefits of gap years, society has shut out the idea altogether. What rationale has created such a negative connotation? There are two schools of thought: the first, financial burden thinkers claim delaying a career or graduate program is entirely too expensive.

Secondly, motivational thinkers believe gap years are momentum voids that make finishing an education exponentially harder. While true in some instances, the fact of the matter is these ideas are part of the minority. Nearly 90 percent of students return to school within a year of their gap, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some students may be returning after their gap year, but is that a cost-effective option? Taking a gap year does delay breaking the salary threshold while maintaining a higher level of expense. However, this ignores the experiences of those who expect to work or intern during their gap year.

In contrast to the notion gap years are meant for relaxation, taking time away from school allows students the opportunity to build up their savings or potentially determine if the degree they are pursuing is something they truly want to do. Even though a student would be sacrificing a year of salary, the ability to sample their career before committing to a four-year education outweighs that loss.

The unspoken commonality of regretting one’s major could easily be circumvented if the taboo was taken away from gap years. Moreover, garnering professional experience allows students taking gap years to become more sought after when competing for positions. Aside from the financial and professional advantages of taking an educational sabbatical, taking advantage of a gap year is beginning to gain popularity.

In lieu of traveling or taking the first steps into the workforce, students are now beginning to take time away from school to volunteer or work for non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. A great alternative to studying, traveling abroad or working is volunteering for a non-profit group. To counteract the burnout felt from college, volunteering provides students with an opportunity to break the monotony of studying and give back to the community.

Students who took a gap year graduated faster than the traditional student and experienced an 86 percent job satisfaction rate, according to a 2015 study conducted by the American Gap Association. Whether during undergrad, before graduate school or when entering the workforce, all students share the same sentiment that college was the highest stress experience.

Before letting societal pressure force you into the next stage of life, taking a gap year offers priceless health benefits. The ability to either sample a career or simply revitalize oneself has proven to help students succeed in their future endeavors. Although there are certain risks when taking a gap year, society as a whole has created an overly negative view of taking a break.

Before succumbing to the pressures of proceeding straight into that next step, it is essential students consider the potential benefits of taking a gap year. Gap years are rightfully becoming an increasingly popular option for recent college graduates and it’s time we acknowledge its viability and ditch the fear of a gap year.

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Migchalee Gonzalez

Migchalee Gonzalez

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