Doors of Opportunity

Olivia Walz '22, Page Designer

While many students head off to college right after completing high school, some students choose to take an alternative route called a gap year,when one postpones their learning after either high school, college, or graduate school.

“I think that immersing yourself in different fields is very important so that you can get a sense of what you want to do with your life,” Justin Conally, a South graduate and an AmeriCorps member said.

If you decide to explore different cultures and experience new things, taking a gap year could allow you to mature, which could help you even further in college. There are also many other benefits that come with taking a gap year.

“A benefit includes a $6,000 education award, and the fact that you are able to say that you have 17 hours or more of community service,(which) looks really good on your resume and to college administrators,” Conally said.

Taking a gap year is becoming an increasingly popular option among high school students since it’s a time for personal growth. During this time, you can volunteer, learn a new language, work, or travel, as seen with Charlotte Huettemann, a former South student.

“You kind of just have to make a decision how to spend that gap year,” Huettemann said. “I chose to gain more experience so I went to Germany, Norway, Spain, and England.”

By going through new experiences during your gap year, you can gain a sense of what you want to study or what career you want to pursue.

“I did an internship at a theatre as a director’s assistant and I was just interested to see what an actress’s life was like,” Huettemann said. “Although [acting] wasn’t for me, it’s good to know that it wasn’t before I started pursuing it, and I definitely do not regret it.”

Parents may also worry that it would be a difficult transition for a student to go from working strenuously in high school to taking a “break”. However, Connally thinks otherwise.

“Those who go through a structured program would have to have the leadership qualities that colleges are looking for,“ Conally said. “For those who decide to take a gap year and do something less structured it could definitely be a hard transition.”

No matter your choice, you should check with the college you are hoping to attend before making your decision. Some allow you to take a deferred year, while some don’t. If they do, you should apply first then take a gap year, and if they don’t it would be beneficial to take a gap year first, then apply later.

“If they are fine with it, it’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t hurt your admissions in any way,” Peter Grandbois, fencing coach and English professor at Denison University said. “If students don’t think they are ready yet, it’s totally fine and it’s definitely not looked down upon, although it would be a plus if they explained their reasons to the college they are hoping to attend.”
A gap year is more like a mindset than anything. It’s a way of choosing a course of action that can be helpful to you in the future, and the most important thing is your attitude.

“Going out and doing something that nobody else is doing is a good opportunity,” said Huettemann. “It just opens up a lot of opportunities and shows you just how big the world is.”