As seniors prepare to walk down the aisle at graduation and pivot towards the post-high school world, often dismissed are the multitude of alternative post-graduate plans available to students, including the option of a gap year. Although unorthodox, gap years become increasingly popular, proving to be useful periods of time for furthering work experience and travel.
Despite this, the advisory program has failed to adequately expose students to the gap year option. With alternative post-graduate plans becoming progressively prevalent options for students, The Campanile thinks the advisory program should encourage a gap year as a more viable post-graduate plan.
Starting junior year, the advisory program begins guiding its students along various post-graduate options, mainly college-centric. As students receive instructions on the general application process and timeline, gap years are seemingly glazed over and disregarded. The Campanile suggests that moving forward, the advisory curriculum should present a list of organizations that provide gap year programs. This establishes taking a gap year as a legitimate and acceptable post-graduate program, and may provide more accessibility to students who wish to pursue them.
Gap years, while untraditional, have many benefits that may serve students well later in life. They provide valuable experience for students who have not yet settled on a career choice, want to gain work experience or just want to try something new. Many students spend their gap year traveling to different cities or even different countries, which can provide them with valuable experiences that are not easily replicated inside a classroom. The ability to be self-sufficient, resourceful and inquisitive will be useful in almost every potential career, and taking a gap year is a good way to become more mature and independent before beginning college.
Internships are another useful way many students spend their gap years. Gaining work experience before starting college is especially beneficial for those who have not settled on a major or career choice because it allows them to test out potential careers while the stakes are low. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, 33 percent of students switch their major at least once; gaining experience in one or more professional fields may help reduce this indecision.
Taking a gap year can also reduce a student’s stress during senior year, because they would not have to devote time to college applications. This would significantly increase the amount of time students would have to spend on homework or with family and friends, therefore improving their overall senior year experience.
A gap year would also provide students with more time to prepare for standardized tests, research programs at different schools, write essays and visit colleges campuses. Alternatively, students who applied to colleges can defer for a year, or use the extra time to apply to schools that are a better fit.
Gap years should not be dismissed as undesirable or inferior post-graduate plans. Considering the many benefits that gap years can provide, it is the belief of The Campanile that Paly’s Advisory curriculum should incorporate information about gap year options and programs.
While we commend Paly’s efforts to include more information about community college, The Campanile hopes that Advisory will eventually address all types of post-Paly plans.