Gap years should be normalized

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People usually associate taking a gap year with being “behind” their peers, but since when did our journey’s become the same? 

A gap year could be a year or just a select number of semesters of outside experience. If someone is running a relay race, at some point they must take a break to breathe and gather themselves. Think about school the same way. 

Students are typically enrolled in a schooling system from daycare or pre-k to twelfth grade. According to The New Teacher Project (TNTP): The Opportunity Myth, “more than 50 million children each spend roughly 1,200 hours every year in public school classrooms in this country.” 

Calculate the number of hours in one year with how many years are spent in grade school. Yea, that sounds like a lot of time right? Taking a break after high school could allow an individual to find themselves and other things they might enjoy. There are a plethora of opportunities that can come out of a gap year. One of these advantages being, working a job to save money. 

Taylor Cooper, 20, a psychology scholar says she did not want to take a gap year but the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to leave school.

“I took the year off to reset and figure out where I needed to be while also taking time to work more and save money,” Cooper said.

Many people who do not take a gap year have claimed to suffer from burnout. This is when someone does a task so often that it loses value and it becomes something that they start trying to avoid.  

Marha Rolle, is majoring in biomedical engineering and says she experienced high levels of stress and decided it was time to put her state of well being first.

“I had to reevaluate what my end goals were and came up with different strategies to cope with stress. I didn’t regret anything,” Rolle said. 

Janiyah Grant, an entrepreneurship major, is planning on taking a gap year after the summer.

“I’m taking a gap year for mental health and simply because I need to figure out what to do next in my life,” Grant said.

Despite the disadvantages that people may think come with taking a gap year, there is no right or wrong way to get an education. No matter the path it takes to accomplish the goal, if there is some sort of productivity along the way, the journey should not feel like wasted time or a step behind everyone else.