Gap Year DOMINANT-000

How to better shape your life

I’m not crazy. I swear. What if we took a year off after high school? Let’s call it… a gap year.

This past summer traveling through Japan and staying in hostels where up to eight people shared a room, I met people from Australia, Germany, Thailand and a group of guys from Chicago. As a 17-year old student traveling by myself, I made small talk with these people, and in each conversation I learned that they were taking a year off either before college or before graduate school. I must admit, at first I thought “Wow these people are obviously crazy.” As I started to think more and more about this concept of a gap year, the more it made sense to me.

At Walnut, students tend to think that college is everything, college is the culmination of a student’s entire life, college defines who they are. However, the purpose of college is to expand our horizons, our knowledge and enhance who we really are. Our parents and teachers instill in us the importance of college as it leads to a greater education, something irreplaceable in today’s world. Although I definitely believe in receiving a college-level education, I also believe that it does not necessarily have to come directly after high school. Because let’s face it: many of us don’t have the first clue as to what we will be doing five or ten years down the line.

A gap year would be most beneficial to those without a clear goal or direction in life. It allows students to explore, open up their minds and gain a deeper understanding of themselves. In this gap year, students can travel, work, learn and experience what the “real world” has to offer. Essentially, it is simply a suggestion to those who truly do not feel as if they are ready for college or have a grasp of what they want to pursue. This allows people to find what they love, what they want to do and hone in on the path they choose for themselves. Going into college blindfolded, without a sense of direction, is basically wasting both time and money.

I also understand that some may use a gap year in order to save up for college. In other words, an individual may spend a year working to fund tuition, textbooks and housing. Again, gap years open up opportunities and provide another option for those perhaps more economically disadvantaged.

A gap year may sound absurd, but I think it has its merits. It is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but for some, it might be just the thing to get them headed on the right track. And besides, it can’t hurt to learn your different options.

By Brian Wu, Media manager 
Editorial cartoon by Amy Lo