By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
I remember the college fairs during high school that teachers would hype during my senior year. Teachers and counselors explained that it was important to go to college right after high school, as to not get too lazy or lose the information that we had learned in school. The college fairs would usually be in the high school gym, with hordes of students moving around in a circle visiting each table set up, each manned by one or two admission representatives. Some of the colleges were close and affordable while others were expensive, out of state, or both. I knew, however, that no matter which college I ended up picking, I still had no clue what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
A little over a decade ago in the U.S., the term “gap year” caught on when Prince William and Prince Harry took planned time off before entering college in the UK.
In 2000, Harvard published an article titled “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation.” In the article, authors William Fitzsimmons, Marlyn E. McGrath, and Charles Ducey define the gap year as a “time to step back and reflect, to gain perspective on personal values and goals, or to gain needed life experience in a setting separate from and independent of one’s accustomed pressures and expectations.”
A study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California Los Angeles found that only 2.2 percent of incoming freshmen in the U.S. class of 2015 took a year off before entering college.
For young adults eager to get college over with, going into college without an idea of what you are majoring in tends to correlate to higher debt in the end.
I started college in the year of 2010, with no rest from the taxing four years of hell known as high school. At Florissant Valley Community College I declared myself a graphic design major. And for the next two years I dedicated myself to art classes, buying sketch pads, charcoal, and erasers. But those classes would not matter, once I decided I was not going to be an artist and wanted to go to a real university.
Webster University had a better environment than community college. The students seemed more focused on school, and the prospect of passing over math and science classes for alternative classes was enticing enough for me to enroll. At Webster University, I declared myself an advertising major, which meant a lot of my transfer credit would not apply to my major. By that time, I had spent three years in college, and I was barely considered a sophomore.
I only spent a short time at Webster—the burden of loans forced me to drop out after two semesters. I felt like a failure as I spent the next two years out of college, working job after job. But it was during this time I began to take a hard look at myself and think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Looking back now, I wish I had done this in the beginning instead of being pressured to enroll in a college right away.
High schools across the countries should let students know that it is okay to take a gap year in order to find out what they are truly passionate about. I think that the “gap year” is a great way to stop and reflect on yourself and find your passion. But it is also a good way to save money you would be spending at a university, and also a strategy to avoid acquiring unneeded debt like I did before I learned what I truly wanted to do with my life.