Depending on where you live, taking a gap year (usually a year off between high school and college) could be anything from taboo to expected. Whether you're currently planning one or just curious about whether or not a gap year could be a good option for you, here are a few things you'll want to think about before moving on to the next steps.
The Financial Aspect
There are two things you'll want to consider here: how the decision to take a gap year will affect you now, and how it will affect you when it is over.
Depending on what your plans are for your gap year, it could either be a chance to save up for the future ahead, or it could be a rather costly endeavor. Will you be travelling, or working a few jobs to get some extra cash?
Either way, it's also important to double check that any scholarships or financial aid that you've qualified for/won will still be available to you after taking time off of school. Ensuring that your financial aid status is maintained is essential to coming out of college with your head (mostly) above water.
Make sure that the benefits of taking a gap year outweigh any potential losses that may occur.
Speaking of benefits, take this opportunity to write down a list of all the pros of taking a gap year (whatever a gap year looks like to you). Whether that's fulfilling childhood dreams, tackling an awesome internship, or saving a few grand. Make sure to be honest with yourself about what would actually benefit you long term.
In similar fashion, write down the cons. What setbacks can you expect? Perhaps spending a few semesters away from school will erode some of the academic habits you've spent the last 12+ years building. Maybe you'll come out with far less money than you started. Could you lose a scholarship? A place at a prestigious school? Write it all down, so that your ultimate decision will be made with its true scope already in mind.
The Bigger Picture
The final thing to think about is this: Ultimately, you will be starting (or continuing) school a year later than your peers. That's a year more before you graduate. Another year before you can start your career. And sometimes the benefits that online ads would love you to believe exist, are really just a few fleeting moments paired with a lot of exhausting prep, plane rides, and expenditures.
Whether or not you choose to take a gap year, and regardless of whether you spend it working, traveling, or sleeping, make sure that it is the best choice for both your mental health now and your future. It's never too early to start planning your dream life, and only you can decide what your timeline for that dream will be.
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