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Gap years: Yes or No?

Should Students Take a Year Off Between High School and College?

A gap year is defined as a period of time in which students take a break from their
studies, usually after completing high school.
For some, a gap year is an opportunity to explore potential career paths, often through
travel and participation.
However, it tends to be more commonly seen as taking one year off from school in
attempt to save up money, while working a 9-5 job.
While this can be financially beneficial for high school graduates, it does not apply to the
experience factors that colleges look for in a gap year.
“The best gap years tend to be the ones that push students to think about who they are
and their role in the world,” said Joe O’Shea, associate provost and dean of
undergraduate studies at Florida State University.
When a college admission committee is aware that a student chose to take a gap year,
they look closely at what they have achieved within that time. It may come as a surprise
that colleges have much higher standards for these applicants.
They expect to see more maturity and direction because these potential students had
the advantage of waiting one extra year. According to College Vine, a website that aims
to help students plan for the future, if a student has little to show for their time away
from school, they may be looked down upon or viewed as lazy by the admission
Above financial stability, a gap year is ultimately meant to make a positive impact on
your academic life. Colleen Paparella, founder of DC College Counseling explains,
“They need to have a very clear idea in mind about what they’re going to do
afterwards. I would definitely never do this and keep it open-ended at the end. That’s
not going to work.”
In the same way students lose academic progress over summer break, high school
graduates tend to regress during extended time out of school. If a college degree is
part of your long-term career plan, consider the idea that taking time off may lead to the
loss of momentum that is needed to start your college-level academic journey on the
right foot.
Regardless of this obstacle, gap years can be a chance to gain knowledge and training
in a simulated workplace environment. There are many physical and online
opportunities that graduates can earn certifications or experience in specific fields.
Weir High graduate of the class of 2023, Shaylah Arvin is currently attending
cosmetology school, before attending WVU next year for business.
“I’m glad I got to take a gap year because it gave me time to think about if I really
wanted to go to college and what I would pursue. I never wanted hair to be my main
thing, so I’m happy I got to experience it and still go on to do other things,” Arvin said.
Ultimately, gap years can be a healthy, productive idea for many graduates, as long as they go about it carefully and set goals for the outcome.

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About the Contributor
Jennifer Fidler
Jennifer Fidler, Journalist
Hi!  I’m Jennifer Fidler, and I’ve been a part of the Weir Student Media staff since my freshman year.  I am currently serving the role of our Wake up Weir and announcements manager.  My time outside of school is typically spent working full-time, planning, and selling birthday/wedding cakes on the side.  I plan to graduate early and begin working full-time at Amazon in Imperial PA.  During this time, I will be completing West Virginia Real Estate courses and establishing a position as a realtor.
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