Focus on You: The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year
Why taking a break could be the most productive thing for you.
When asking a college student how they feel at a certain point in the semester, the word "stress" is more than likely to come up. Trying to balance exams, presentations, finances, studying, and for many students, working, can lead to students losing sleep, not having the time/resources to eat enough, and struggling mentally to keep up. Sometimes students simply feel burnt out, and they need time to breathe/regroup in order to put all of their energy into their education. For all of these reasons and more, taking a year off of college is highly recommended.
Mental Health Comes First
Stress starts out as something minor. Everyone feels stressed once in a while, and when placed in high-pressure situations like being successful at college, it's okay to feel overwhelmed. However, as this stress builds throughout the year, and becomes an everyday occurrence, it can seem like the world is beginning to crumble (especially for individuals already prone to mental health issues like generalized anxiety). It's a hard realization to come to, but taking a gap year to rebuild emotional strength and reflect after deeply struggling for a year can be what's necessary in the long-run. When asked to define gap year, professionals frequently say it is a year "on," with specific goals in mind. These goals can simply be to cope with anxiety or depression and become a stronger version of one's self. Whether this involves therapy, spending time with loved ones, or even just resting, a gap year will allow a stressed student to gain personal awareness, and take a well-deserved breath after a challenging year that knocked them down.
Gain Professional Experience in the Meantime
Money can be a debilitating part of attending university that many struggle to maintain. Young students that aren't fortunate enough to come from wealthy families that support them have to worry about tuition and fees, the cost of dorms and textbooks, and additional expenses for transportation. With this being said, taking a year off of all of this madness offers a student the perfect opportunity to get a job in a field of their interest, and save up for when they decide to return to school. For instance, if a student was majoring in architecture and they have a family member or friend that offers them a job working with them on construction projects, this college student that was feeling immense stress now has time to learn, gain experience, make money, and take a break all in one. It's important to remember that college will still be there, but opportunities come and go quickly.
Explore Your Passions
College students also often feel uninspired or unmotivated. A student feeling like they aren't being challenged or pursuing what they truly love will never be able to put their all into their schooling. Today there are dozens of students enrolled in college, because of intense amounts of pressure from their parents to live up to their expectations, and in turn, they're losing sight of what they want for their future. This would be like when a young student decides to go to college and study to become a doctor to make their parents proud, when in reality, they are passionate about music, and wish they were out in the world performing. Additionally, many students want to travel and gain life experience before going to school, and this could be done with the money they save from taking a gap year.
All in all, if you can't put your all into something, it is not worth doing. Having daily break downs, and no inspiration to stay in college will do more harm than good, and the student will inevitably burn out. Taking a year to figure things out, become mentally stronger, and explore what the world has to offer is not right for everyone, but it could seriously change a stressed-out student's life forever.