Why students should take a gap year
By Jason GokHo Ing, Contributor
For as long as I can remember, the idea of going to college straight out of high school was seen not as a choice, but a mandatory requirement. For generations this mentality has been passed down from loving parents to their children with the hopes that their offspring will achieve fulfilling careers thanks to post-secondary training.
These attitudes are not completely unfounded, as higher education does correlate with a larger net income. According to a 2014 report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers with a bachelor’s degree make over $488 weekly compared to those with only a high school diploma. With such a large discrepancy in wages it would appear to make perfect sense for parents to nag children who choose to forgo further schooling, even if it’s just for a little while.
However, even though education does pay its dividends, rushing into post-secondary without proper planning can have disastrous consequences. V.N. Gordon, author of The Undecided College Student: An Academic and Career Advising Challenge found that roughly 75 per cent of college students change their major at least once prior to graduation. Possible reasons for changing majors were either that students hated the course material or were disappointed with the career prospects associated with their intended career path. While one can argue that experimenting with different occupations throughout college is beneficial, the financial loss and potential damage towards a student’s GPA cannot be ignored.
Instead of immediately choosing to pursue the first job that comes to mind right after secondary school, I believe that it is imperative that young adults take some time outside of their studies to evaluate who they are and what exactly they want to get out of college. This process can start by discovering what careers are in-demand on websites like Career Cruising and WorkBC. In addition, students can use this time productively by taking up jobs and volunteer positions that are related to their desired career so that they can determine if that line of work is right for them. An example could be volunteering at a hospital if someone aspired to be a nurse, or working as a bank teller if they were interested in finance. These positions look great on a resume and provide opportunities for youngsters to connect with potential employers.
These steps may seem small at first but narrowing down what you really want for a career could save you a mountain of future debt. The importance of a college education is invaluable. Nonetheless, I believe the pursuit for the perfect career is best done by leaving time for yourself first to determine what you really want out of life.