In our society today, or at least in America’s, it’s normal to graduate from high school and go straight to college… or not. You either go to college right away or not at all. There isn’t really an in between that we recognize. It’s common for a 17-18 year old in their senior year of high school to say, “I’m going to take a year off before I go to college,” but to my knowledge, 9 times out of 10 they never end up going to college.
I was one of those students who took a year off, and ended up going to college when the year was up.
From what I understand, in other countries it’s not unusual to take a year off between graduating high school/secondary school before going off to a university. I was intrigued when I first heard of this concept at the end of my high school career, since I had always planned on going straight to college after graduation. The problem with my plan was that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to major in when I got there. Since I didn’t want to end up changing majors later in college, or dropping out, and essentially wasting time and money, I decided to take a gap year to decide what I wanted to do.
During my gap year I ended up moving, three times, along with my twin brother and a few other people (cousins, friends…). My twin and I, along with one of our younger brothers (the owner of this blog), ended up starting our own freelance photography business out of a common interest we share. Right away I took charge and began planning out how it would work – what times we were available, possible locations to use, which types of photography we would specialize in due to our interests and skill, etc. We are still doing a few jobs here and there, but now that I’m across the state from my brothers it’s not something that is on the top of our lists anymore.
But in doing that work to make our business work I realized something, I enjoyed the business planning more than I enjoyed the photography part of it. I liked taking charge and planning out how our business would work, then doing what needed to be done to make it work. When this came to light, I started looking into business programs at different universities before deciding on one that had a program I liked, and applied. I started at the university in January and have not looked back.
So I actually took a little over a year off, but by the time I realized what I wanted to do, it had been a year, then I had to go through the researching and applying process. And let me tell you, it was nothing that I expected to be interested in or end up studying in college.
Taking a gap year can be one of the most beneficial things a person my age does. It helps you to gather perspective on what it is you want to do with your life. I say, if you’re unsure of what you want to do after high school, take a year and just explore your interests. Or, just take one or two classes at a community college that might interest you. Anything to help you see where you want your life to go and if college is the way to get there.