Gap years helps students thrive before and during college

Joe Earles, Writer

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In just four months, Grady’s seniors will step onto the graduation stage and out of high school. For the first time in the lives of the class of 2019, we’ll be let free to pursue higher education and careers. Leaving high school is a thrilling time, but this isn’t a transition that comes without fear.

Ironic as it may seem, the fear of failure always comes with this ability to find success. It’s easy to fear living a life that is thrust upon you opposed to fulfilling your true goals. To help with this fear of being unable to live out their dreams, more people every year are deciding to take a gap year after high school.

It’s a simple command, but it’s one that far too often goes overlooked: follow your dreams. While many people have career dreams that may take a lifetime to complete, there are some dreams that can be much more immediately obtainable: like volunteering for Americorps, interning on a campaign or hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Not only does a year after high school provide ample time to achieve these goals, but a gap year is, without a doubt, the best time in one’s life to pursue them. Obviously, before graduating high school, a student doesn’t have the freedom needed to go out on their own and after college doesn’t provide much better opportunity.

Ideally, a student makes career connections in college, and to take a year to pursue goals unrelated to those connections could sever that tie. Once a student gets into a career, it’s nearly impossible to take a year off without quitting or getting fired. Put a career along with new familial obligations, and eventually retirement becomes the only time to follow these dreams. I don’t intend to wait that long.

One of the scariest things for those considering a gap year is the worry that an 18-year-old may not be mature enough to take responsibility and command over their own life. As a senior in high school, I certainly don’t feel prepared to live on my own and take care of myself at this exact moment, but that’s just because I’ve been conditioned to feel that way. For my entire life, I’ve been provided for, and to thrust that responsibility on myself is scary.

A gap year does not require immediate independence at all. What it does, though, is mandate responsibility and planning upon the student, and it forces one to be able to develop those critical traits.

After the gap year, a student will be far more responsible than their peers, not because they were raised better or they were born that way, but because they were forced to learn those skills

To many, the excitement of going to college is stronger than anything that world travels or meaningful internships could provide. Others may just enjoy doing what it takes to make money as quickly as possible.

This is understandable, and it’s O.K.. To these people, a gap year after high school is probably not the best move. However, to those who want to open their eyes to the world a little more before diving into the experience of college, a gap year  is not only the best move, but if done right, it could change their lives.

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