A gap year is one where a student decides to take a year away from their regular studies- typically between high school graduation and college. It’s a controversial topic and rightfully so- the idea of a gap year is both scary and appealing. I know that because I myself have thought about it, and regardless of how perfect the idea of it seems, the realisation that all my friends will be going to universities while I’ll be “left behind” is relentless.
I think we associate a gap year with “a year behind” those in our grade- but why?
Living in India, a gap year is viewed as somewhat a “last resort”, a sign of failure, a sign that a student isn’t smart or resilient enough to cope with the system of college, and usually-a sign that a student hasn’t gotten into college.
However, opposingly- for most Western countries, the idea of a gap year is synonymous with self-discovery and exploration.
You shouldn’t spend every second studying in hopes of making your gap year productive, but by engaging in activities that make you genuinely happy. Be it by travelling, volunteering, or gaining experiences through internships or apprenticeships in professional fields that you’re interested in. Choosing a more ‘carefree’ path could ironically strengthen your application, making you a better-rounded applicant, one with experience and enhanced world views. So yes, a gap year has its positives.
And just for the part that makes this article a bit more credible, helping students form a better-informed perception- “We encourage admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way - provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college.”- this quote is taken from the prestigious Harvard University’s website. Yes! Ivy League schools endorse gap years. So go ahead and take that gap year. It’s okay to be a year “behind”. After the gap year, you could be an even more impressive candidate. You’ll make new friends in your year, and during your travels, you could probably see the Louvre while backpacking through Europe (cliché’ I know, but doesn’t it sound fabulous?).
A gap year is not just a break, it’s an opportunity for you to explore anything that excites you, learn more about yourself, and strengthen your college application. So why not try it out?