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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The benefits of a gap year

Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Harvard supports it. Princeton, Tufts, and even the Massachusetts Institute of Technology encourage it. These distinguished universities are urging students to acknowledge the advantages of taking a gap year before embarking into college life.

High school students have been in the same boat since preschool, sailing through endless classes until adult life finally approaches them. However, many students have been jumping ship before college. Some because they aren’t sure what they want to accomplish in life, others because they simply do not wish to do additional work.

So instead of packing suitcases and stressing about acceptance, students are traveling to Europe, Asia, and South America for a bit of soul searching.

Some simply tour countries abroad; taking in the richness of foreign cultures that can be found in architecture, museums, and languages.

Others, however, find more meaningful work. They help construct orphanages, aid medical teams in their missions to deliver vital services, and even help villages obtain things such as a functioning water-well.

It is through these types of actions that students receive a better sense of the world and appreciate the daily comforts that they take for granted. These types of revelations are critical in the developing of morally correct characters and personalities; which ultimately make the person and the world better.

However, aside from helping people aid others and find their “true selves”; gap years prepare students for the tumultuous road ahead of them. Better prepared students demonstrate higher completion rates. And in a world where nearly thirty percent of college freshman drop out, being better prepared can make a huge difference down the line.

I feel that due to a lack of facts, people commonly categorize gap years as the easy way out of going to college. We seem to have the assumption that people who take some time off will get to accustomed to not doing work and will automatically become failures in life; ending up occupying a lowly position in a fast food company. But simply because a person decides to see the world doesn’t mean that they won’t aspire to great things in life. On the contrary, I see these people as having a valuable knowledge that will allow them to achieve even greater things in life.

If we wish to ensure that students jet off to college focused and ready to succeed, then we should encourage (not discriminate against) gap years. For it is through these types of events that students achieve a better sense of who they are and who they aspire to become. 

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