The idea of taking a break either between high school and college or just after college isn’t a very popular or well-known one here in the U.S., but it is common practice in places like Europe and Australia. There it is known as taking a gap year, though it isn’t always an actual year. Students will take a break between high school and college to travel around, usually for about a semester.
The whole idea behind taking a gap year is to give students a chance to relax after all those years of schooling and to increase their maturity and self-awareness. There have actually been studies that have shown an increase in these factors, along with a fluency in a foreign language, greater self-confidence, and an overall increase in G.P.A.’s (1). Overall, it’s considered a pretty great idea, so why don’t we do it here in the U.S.?
The biggest issue is, obviously, money. Very few people have the financial means to take a semester or a year off and travel around. In fact, most people can barely afford to go to college, much less put it off for several months of soul searching. You have to consider the cost of basic necessities like food and water and places to stay, especially when you do not have any source of personal income. If someone does decide to travel then they usually have to rely on money given to them by relatives for their gap year.
Another issue is simply the timing of it. Many people get acceptance letters in the summer between the end of high school and the following fall semester of college and most cannot really afford to turn them down for fear they might not get in again. Not to mention the fast pace and ever-changing nature of the U.S. education system and economy. A semester off can ruin a person’s chances for a college education or a stable job or career.
While a gap year may be a good idea with several great benefits, it is not yet a feasible option for students in America. It is something we will have to work towards if we want it to happen.