Why I Hate The Gap Year

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Blog, She Wrote: Why I Hate the Gap Year

This post is entirely my opinion on the gap year for high school graduates. Praxis is one option for post high school. They are the sponsors of today’s post.

I’ll be honest. I hate the gap year. When I hear that a teen is choosing a gap year I think, “Oh is that what the kids are calling it now?” Back in the day we just called that going to work or not going to college. Gap year makes it sound like the graduate has a plan, but do they?

Why I Hate The Gap Year

There are a lot of reasons I dislike the idea of a gap.

  • I’ve met too many people who take the break and don’t pursue their future only to regret that decision later– mostly because it is harder to do when you have a family. Many wish they’d have put the time in when it was easier.
  • Living in a town with two prestigious colleges/universities gives me a unique perspective on the gap year. Local high school graduates who don’t have a plan struggle because we are surrounded by people who do have a plan- and they are living it out. Others who take the gap elsewhere and return are older and return home only to find their peer group is in graduate school- a place for the very focused. It is really hard to be the one without a plan in this town.
  • Often times, students enter their gap year without a real plan or at the most only a partial plan in place. If the purpose of the gap year is to explore and focus, then they must be intentional about it. An aimless gap year will not help students to reach their goals.

If a student wants to explore and get experience before going to college, then they must take active steps in figuring out how to do it. If the student has no strategy in learning and experiencing things related to their interests during the year then they will be no closer to finding a goal than they were at high school graduation.

Every Successful Gap Year Must Include a Solid Plan

For the student who needs the “gap”, there needs to be a concrete plan to reach concrete goals. Here are a few to consider, but there are many resources and ideas out there for a student to use in building their gap strategy.

  • Explore different careers based on interest
  • Set a reading goal and get started– by the end of the year plan to complete the goal. It can be related to interests and include the classics.
  • Find work related to your potential area of study
  • Volunteer with organizations which embody your values– learn all about the organization
  • Enroll in programming designed to teach you in a field of study

Praxis Provides a Plan for a Gap Year

Praxis is a part of the plan and places people where they will gain experience which will help them in concrete ways in the pursuit of their future.

  • Experience based entrepreneurial program
  • Applications are being accepted for next fall and winter sessions
  • Creates options for post high school education
  • Demonstrates choices for real life applications
  • Gives student real world practice with businesses
  • Builds experience for students

Visit Praxis on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and You Tube. A Real World Education gives you an idea of what Praxis is all about.

While I do hate the gap year, I know some of my children may choose to enter their post high school world differently. My husband was asked to take a gap year during his time at university so that he could sort out his priorities. I’ve spoken openly about my bright & occasionally motivated high schooler. My daughter has an entrepreneurial spirit and loves her fashion design. Any of these situations could easily give me pause to consider an alternate path to the future.

As we have turned a final corner into this school year, we are looking ahead at two high school students next year. We are actively helping them to seek their future even now and for a long time. We are preparing them for several options. All of them involve a plan- especially if they propose a gap year!

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  1. I see and hear about a lot of problems with kids not taking a gap year who maybe could benefit from one. (The source of this info is family – Dh is a university prof, oldest ds is now a grad student and oldest dd is in the final year of her undergrad degree. I’ve also worked in universities – albeit a long time ago). They head off to university not really sure why they are going or what they want to study or do at the end of the degree. They just go because that’s what’s expected, it’s what everyone does. This lack of motivation and passion often results in failing courses/switching majors or degrees which wastes a lot of time and money. I’d rather my kids not go or delay going than just follow the herd. I can see the advantages of going straight to university if you are ready but not everyone is ready at the same time.

  2. Very true Sandra! Notice I said that my concern is a lack of a plan for the time off. If a student isn’t actively pursuing what it is they do want to do- figuring it out by reading, doing, learning, experiencing SOMETHING that will tell them about themselves and what they like or don’t like, then their situation remains the same. Time off without a plan is just as bad as heading off to the university just because it’s what everyone does.

  3. I have two that went straight to college and two that are enjoying a “gap year”. The two with the gap year are much happier and are having awesome experiences that the other two wish they would have had the opportunity to explore before tackling a college degree. Amanda has totally changed directions since leaving college and Daniel is wishing he could go back and do a different path but once you start working full time it is hard to do that with bills and obligations. It really, really depends on the attitudes and goals that the particular child has. It isn’t the idea of a gap year that is wrong but rather the lack of a purpose for a gap year.

    1. Absolutely Barb! Purpose is KEY. I’ve seen a lot of young adults whose gap years leave them no different in the end. I know graduates make a lot of use of time after high school in a lot of good ways besides going to college. I’m not opposed to that at all- what I’m opposed to is no plan and I see that about as often as I see a purposeful year. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Thanks Meredith! I’m all about a plan. 🙂 Barb is one of my favorite people!

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