Is taking a gap year right for you?

DSU students are paddle boarding in Grand Teton National Park during a break from school. Traveling is something many young adults choose to do when they take a gap year from college. Photo by Emily Wight.

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While college may seem like a step in the right direction, taking a gap year might just save you some trouble.

College is an experience open for anyone who is eager enough to conquer it; however, it might not always be the best decision for every student to jump straight into the hustle and bustle right out of high school.

“There is definitely value [in taking some time off],” General education adviser Nicholas Theis said. “Whether or not [taking time off] is a good or bad idea, I don’t know if I would characterize it as either… What we choose to do with this experience [of taking some time off] is what ultimately makes it a good or bad thing.”

While taking some time away from your education may seem alluring, it does have the potential to negatively affect you in the long run if you are not spending your time wisely. If you are using this break sufficiently, it could help you further your ambitions and career goals you wish to achieve.

Theis said, “Oftentimes, students are coming into the university with the pressure of expectations for a major and a career path and all these things, but they don’t have the life experience needed to know what they like and equally important, what they don’t like.”

Education has the potential to open up various interests you may never have known you had, but some experiences can’t be gained in a classroom.

Theis said: “I would like to compare it to ice cream. If you ask someone who has never had a taste of ice cream, or maybe they’ve had two or three kinds and you ask them their favorite flavor, is that a very good question? We know this would be a terrible question because they have never had the benefit of perspective, and perspective comes from experience.”

In every aspect of life, knowledge of what may peek your interest is key. Whether that be your favorite ice cream flavor or deciding on a career path, you need to have a well-rounded perspective in order to make the most sound decisions for yourself.

Chloe Knight, a sophomore general studies major from St. George, said she thinks it’s a great idea for students to take a break if they deem it necessary for themselves.

“Gap years give students time to prepare for school by working, maybe traveling and by simply allowing themselves extra time to grow up and learn their passions,” Knight said.

Opportunities arise in various aspects of life, and sometimes, taking time off of school to explore those opportunities is exactly what one needs in order to get back into the swing of things when it comes to their education.

While Knight hasn’t taken a gap year, she did defer her first semester of college due to COVID-19 and wasn’t prepared to have her college experience start solely online. She said even though she decided to take a break from schooling for a while, she had no doubts on whether or not she would once again attend school.

Oftentimes, students have this notion in which they won’t get around to coming back to school once taking some time off; however, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, this is the best possible move in order to excel once you decide to go back.

Rebecca Morwood, a junior English major from Victorville, California, said it is a good idea for students to take some time away from their education if times are hard or a break is simply needed.

“I think [taking a break] would be okay if [students] are in a tough situation, [in] need of a break or they go on a mission,” Morwood said.

While college is an opportunity one can experience in life, it is not the only life path that will lead to greater opportunities. Upon taking a break, students can gain knowledge of the outside world by living on their own, spending their time working or even traveling.

Morwood said it probably isn’t the best idea for students who have begun their college journey to decide to take a break before completing classes, especially ones that coincide with one another.

“Don’t [take time off] when you have classes that need to be taken right after one another otherwise you will forget everything you have learned and you are going to struggle once you go back,” Morwood said.

If you are considering taking some time away from your education to follow a different path, it is important for students to get in touch with their adviser and the registration office to make sure the proper procedures are taken. Filling out the leave of absence and scholarship deferment paperwork allows students to have everything in order upon returning to college.

Do what is best for you, whether it is going to college right out of high school, going on a mission, or even taking some time away from school to explore all of your options. You never know what may come out of it.