Dear Barb – Mind the Gap

Dear Barb:

I just graduated high school and I’m not sure what I want to do next. My parents are supportive of whatever my choice is. Most of my friends are going to college or university, but I’m not sure which program I want to go into. I don’t want to waste my money on a program that I won’t use in a career. A few of my friends are taking a gap year just to figure out what they want to do. I am seriously considering doing that, except I don’t want to end up a year behind my friends. It’s been suggested that I take some online courses, so I can work and figure out what I want to do without being behind when I do return to university or college. What are your feelings on a taking a gap year? Some people have said if I take a year off I will end up not returning to school. I’m anxious about making the wrong decision. I need some advice, thanks, Jay.

Hi Jay:

An excellent topic. Taking a gap year has pros and cons. Often students are burnt out from high school. If you’ve been putting your all into your studies, plus participating in competitive sports or other demanding activities, you most likely are burnt out and need a break. You may have been concentrating on your studies so much that you haven’t given a lot of thought to your future. Often following a year-long break, students are anxious to get back to college or university as they have had some time to find out what their options are. A gap year provides you with time to think about yourself and what you enjoy doing. Perhaps you have been focusing on a skill, like football or hockey and you believed this is the direction your future was going to take, but perhaps because of an injury or some other reason, this no longer is an option and you have to reassess your life goals. If you do take a year off it is important to make the most of it. Find a full-time job doing something you like, or, if you can afford it, spend some time traveling. Also do some volunteer work, this will help you find your true passion. As you mentioned, enrolling in online courses that you can apply toward a degree will keep you in the learning loop while you are out of school. If you spend your gap year doing nothing but sitting around watching Netflix all day, you have basically wasted a year of your life and this will not have been a beneficial experience for you. More students are deciding to take a year off and there is no do data to support the theory that if you take a year off you are less likely to return to school. Basically, if your heart and soul are not into college or university, then you are just wasting your money, or your parent’s money. Taking a year off will energize you and get you more focused on what you truly want to do with your life. Also, because you will be a year older, you will be more equipped to make more mature decisions. There are pros and cons to both sides, but my feeling is that It’s not a good decision to go to university if you are not fully invested and ready to put your heart and soul into it. Hope this was helpful and good luck on whatever you choose to do Jay.

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