The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year


Logos of colleges and universities from across the United States.

By Gabrielle Feliciano, Staff Writer

Before the pandemic, only about three percent of American students took a gap year before attending college or university. Now, up to 40 percent of American students are considering it as an option. Due to the spread of COVID-19, more and more students are taking gap years in between graduation and their first year of post-high school education. During this time, taking a gap year can benefit students even more so than going right to college or university.

During high school, many students feel they don’t have enough time to pursue interests outside of school; students spend around six to seven hours in school per day, with some students spending up to an additional three hours doing after-school activities. Between classes and extracurriculars, students lose time that they could’ve also spent developing mentally and emotionally. However, taking a gap year allows students to make up for this lost time before attending school the following year.

“Gap years are extremely beneficial to the mental health of teenagers and young adults transitioning from childhood into adulthood,” senior Aaron Razack said. “Without this valuable time to dedicate to oneself, you can easily get lost in all of the endeavors that the world has to offer, and you won’t be given an opportunity to embrace the greatness that you can bring to the table.” He went on to say, “Gap years are good because they help you discover you truly are and give you time to dedicate towards yourself, so you can be in a position where you can be even more successful than you could’ve been beforehand.”

Additionally, both college and university are known to come with a cost, with even state schools charging students upwards of tens of thousands of dollars per year. The majority of people struggle with paying for the cost of college and university— a problem that has only worsened as a result of widespread unemployment following the spread of COVID-19. However, taking a gap year gives students and their families more time to do just that.

“Society many times pushes students to quickly decide their entire lives directly after high school. Gap years allow students to actually breathe and decompress from the past 12 years of constant schooling,” senior Alyssa Jean-Pierre said. “This also relieves a lot of stress in regards to finances due to the egregious cost of college. Allowing students to actually take the time to build some sort of wealth standing is extremely beneficial.”

For years, the stigma surrounding gap years referred to taking risks or “falling behind” one’s peers. But taking one gap year after years of grade school might be just what students need before going on to college or university— especially in light of recent events.

Senior Althea Bibat says, “We need to destigmatize gap years, as the school system and our culture has turned education into a commodity. It’s lost its value and meaning to many students. I see many kids with untapped potential go to college without a second thought, wasting their money, when they could’ve taken a gap year in order to fully realize their goals and solidify their identity,” she continued. “Then, if they do decide to go to college, they’ll not only have a set goal in mind, but they’ll also have found a new appreciation for what they’re spending so much money on.”