Student Offers Caveat to Gap Year

Abigail McGovern, Staff Writer, Commentary

For many students, the future after high school can seem daunting and the amount of possible paths, overwhelming. 

Many, unsure of where their passions or talents lay, consider taking a gap year to travel or explore options. However, the best course of action is instead to begin college the fall after graduating high school, because of the opportunities and connections college provides, as well as the sense of direction it gives students.

For one, beginning college directly after high school allows students to more quickly start pursuing a career path and enter a career field. This is especially important because, in the modern day, career fields are harder to break into without a two- or even four-year degree.

“Pursuing a certificate or degree right after high school puts you ahead of the game when it comes to landing your dream job,” states Seminole State University regarding these career field statistics.

For those students who already have a major or career path in mind, starting college right after high school creates a direct path to a career in one’s chosen field by providing early and vital experiences. One is able to begin focusing on career interests, on making connections and building a base of knowledge, and eventually acquiring recommendations and support when applying for the next stage of education or searching for jobs.

It is true, however, that some students, upon graduating high school, are unsure of what a “dream job” may be and are reluctant to begin studying because they do not have a specific major picked out. 

For the undecided, college still provides many opportunities to attend clubs and events in order to find a path. Ferrum College, for example, hosts a club fair each semester for new students, holds various events on campus each week, promotes sports, and holds career fairs in different fields, such as STEM and Social Work.

“College also offers important social opportunities. Students can make lifelong friends during their college experience and form invaluable connections with professors and alumni networks that can help them enter into their chosen field,” said the US Career Institute in an article about the benefits of attending college.

These social and academic connections allow students to make friends within their chosen fields, find mentors and learn from professors and other established professionals, and form networks that will help them prepare to attend graduate school or to enter the workforce.

In a changing world, it is more important than it ever has been before to gather the tools necessary to secure a well-paying job as quickly as possible. For those who are hesitant, or fear missing out on travel and other opportunities possibly provided by a gap year, colleges provide plenty of flexibility for different types of students. 

“Options are now more flexible than ever,” the U.S Career Institute wrote, “including traditional public and private universities, community colleges, and affordable online college degree programs.”

These options allow for both traditional and nontraditional types of students to work around the other elements of their life, including family needs and the necessity of part-time or full-time jobs, in order to begin pursuing a higher education as soon as possible. 

Colleges even provide some of the same opportunities for students as a gap year does, without the potential consequences of entering the job market later on. 

Many colleges offer opportunities to travel and study abroad, often with scholarship offers included, to countries all over the world.  Some countries that e-term and study abroad students from Ferrum undertook in recent years include Ireland, Italy, England, and Costa Rica.

While it’s true that college is not for everyone, for those deciding whether or not to take a gap year, college is the right path. Starting college right after high school sets one up to enter a high-paying career path more quickly. It also provides students with unique connections and opportunities, and more than that, helps one to find and direct a sense of purpose down the path to success.