The advantages of having gap years
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
I firmly value education, and I believe that everyone should pursue it at a post-secondary level if they have the opportunity to. Whether studying trades, STEM, arts, or humanities courses, I believe there is a school for every student. Post-secondary education significantly increases your job prospects, but it’s also important for its own sake. Education is the greatest tool there is.
Many students, myself included, struggle with motivation in school. Many of us are spending thousands of dollars working towards a degree we are unsure what to even do with. Many of us even sink money into classes unsure about what program or degree we’re working towards.
If you are at a point in your education where you’re struggling, either with your finances, grades, future plans, or some combination, it’s a good idea to take a break. When school is seriously impacting you negatively, it needs to cease being a factor in your life—at least for a while. School should be a positive experience that benefits one’s life for the present and future.
I myself took a full school year off by accident due to missing an application deadline. I had a wonderful experience during my gap year. I was able to do full-time work at a job I enjoyed, and continued writing professionally and personally—my field of study and interest. I absolutely enjoyed the lack of stress from homework or exams, as well as the sudden increase in free time. I’m looking forward to returning to school in September, and I will benefit a lot more from the motivation that comes with attending classes now that I’ve had some time away from the institution.
There is no rush to finish school. We are only young once, and this is the time to experience life and the world around us. Particularly in an era of crippling student-loan debt, a bad economy, and careers becoming harder to find, working towards a degree can seem very unpleasant. This is especially true if you are not planning to pursue graduate school or extra education after the initial four years of a bachelors.
As long as you plan out your gap year and spend it doing meaningful things, it can be one of the best things you can do as a student. Committing to a job that’s rewarding in some way, saving up money, travelling, or pursuing a passion is all very good for a person, just as much as pursuing education can be.
We have the rest of our lives to commit to routine and responsibilities. While, yes, you are free to do what you like at any age, it is in our 20s that we have the most freedom, and those years largely determine what we’ll do in the future. Take some time off if you think the time is right. You’ll be glad you did.