Why I chose to take a gap year and what you should consider if you’re considering taking one, too.
During my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to take a gap year. Originally, I heard about the idea of taking a gap year through my peers, social media, and articles on things to think about before going to college. I knew taking a gap year was right for me because I was looking to take some time off, wanted to take some time to focus on my professional and personal development, and believed I needed time to grow and explore my interests before starting an important chapter in my life. There were so many things I was interested in learning and exploring outside of the classroom, which is why I decided to take a gap year.
I went through the regular application process like many of my peers, weighed my options, visited different campuses, and made the decision to attend Bryn Mawr College. Not only was Bryn Mawr a perfect fit for me, but they also, thankfully, supported me in taking a gap year.
During my gap year, I was able to travel to the Philippines twice, England, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, China, and different places in the U.S. I had a great year exploring different places in the world. In addition, I was able to gain professional experience through an internship and working at a local cupcake store. Overall, it was a great experience to relax, refresh, and concentrate on my personal and professional goals.
It wasn’t an easy process, though. Here are a few things I thought about before making the decision to take a gap year:
PRO: Taking some time off.
One of the big reasons I wanted to take a gap year was to take some time off from school. Coming from an extremely competitive high school, I thought taking a break from academics to refresh myself would help me perform my best in college. I wanted some time to take care of myself and get back to my full potential before throwing myself into four years of college.
CON: Disrupting my continuous education.
Something I definitely worried about a lot during my gap year was falling behind in academics – forgetting how to write essays well, how to do standard math, how to study for exams, and how to read critically. These are all very fair concerns. Some people need continuous education. For me, however, taking a gap year was far more helpful than jumping straight in. During my gap year, I was able to expand my knowledge in topics I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about if I hadn’t taken a year to experience new things and concentrate on my own personal development. I actually came back to school more refreshed and excited than I believe I would have jumping right in.
PRO: Focus on professional development.
I also took my gap year to develop professionally. I am extremely interested in joining the world of business post-college and knew that it would be a great experience to intern prior to starting college. I had an amazing opportunity to intern with a corporate office as PR, Public Policy, and Content Marketing intern, work for a local cupcake store as the supervisor and marketing coordinator and took on anything else that came my way. I used the year to hone in on my skills and challenge myself! There are so many things I learned in the “real” working world that I don’t believe I would have been able to absorb jumping straight into school.
CON: Hard to have a successful gap year without a good plan.
Taking a gap year definitely isn’t for everyone. My parents weren’t totally convinced when I first brought the subject to the table. They told me that if I wanted to take a gap year, I needed to make a plan. Being the extreme planner than I am, I created an outline of everything I would do in less than a week. I came up with financial goals, professional goals, personal goals, and a potential schedule. After they saw the plan, they realized I was serious. They agreed and supported me in asking my college of choice to defer for a year. Without a good plan, however, it’s hard to have a successful gap year. While it’d be great to wing everything, it’s not entirely feasible. The year passes by so fast so if you choose to take a gap year make sure you make the most of it! Don’t plan to sit on the couch all day watching Netflix. Do things you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise, take some time to think about it and plan!
PRO: Being more mature entering college.
Another huge perk is being a bit older than peers in my class. At first, I thought this would be uncomfortable, but honestly, you don’t even notice! I love being a bit older because I believe I have a little more confidence than people in my year, mainly because I took a year to really explore my interests and strengths. Taking the time to concentrate on myself and understanding how I function is definitely something not all students have the opportunity to do.
Overall, I believe those who are organized, driven, and motivated to make the most of their year should take a gap year. Again, it’s not for everyone. There were times when I worried that I wouldn’t be prepared to enter back into the classroom or being strangely older than those in my class. There are many things you should think about prior to making the decision. Still need help? Check out the decision chart below. You should also review Bryn Mawr’s Deferred Enrollment Practice. I hope this helps!