“Oh you’re not in school? What exactly are you doing then?”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a family-friend or relative ask me this question, I would probably have enough money to pay for a semester of school in full.
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the point stands: students who take a gap year between high school and college are often criticized or looked down upon; why is that?
Personally, I took two years off between high school and college to work, travel and just try to figure out what I was doing before jumping into four more years of school. When I first brought the idea up to my parents, I had planned to move to San Francisco to live with my aunt and uncle for a year and then attend school in California after I had gained residency, and they were all for it.
However, when I moved home five months later, the only thing I had accomplished was gaining 30 pounds and learning I was not ready to live so far away from my mother that I couldn’t hop in a car and get to her in a matter of hours. This realization left both me and my parents disappointed and unsure of what to do next.
Jump forward a year, and I was still living at home, working full time, and overall feeling like a complete failure in my parents, and everyone else’s eyes. It was at that point I realized I was finally ready to move out and become my own, self-sustaining human being with a college education.
By January of 2017, I had applied and been accepted to Dixie State University, and by fall I was finally in school.
Some people may think I just wasted two years of my life sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, and waiting for life to figure itself out for me, but looking back I wouldn’t change those two years for anything.
I was in no way ready to start college right after high school, and knowing myself, I probably would have ended up taking a break a year later and probably would have never really gone back. In those years I took off, I was able to learn more about myself and my ability to decide when I was and wasn’t ready for something.
Second, I was able to work the whole time. Even in California I worked and saved up money, so by the time I was ready to go to school, I had enough money to pay for it. Thanks to those two years, I can say that I am almost finished with my second semester of college, and I have yet to take out a single student loan.
I am so glad I took time off before starting college. Although there are some students who don’t need a break, those who do shouldn’t have to feel less than for taking time to discover themselves first.