Taking a “gap year” off college could have benefits

Sean Bassinger, Forum editor

There’s a new “gap” in town, and it’s not a popular retail clothing chain or wage discrepancy issue.

I’m talking about the “year off college” gap, now made even more popular thanks to the news of Malia Obama’s decision to take a breather before she continues through higher education.

Word of Malia Obama’s announcement, along with news that she will attend Harvard University in 2017, came from the White House shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama concluded his last annual White House Correspondents’ dinner. For those of you unaware of the yearly roast-and-comedy fest, this is an event where nobody is safe from the several “so there” moments and where the GOP’s remaining amount of dignity goes to die.

But enough about President Obama being “over it.” Let’s talk about college gap years.

There could be arguments from both sides of the spectrum in regards to whether or not it’s a good idea.

Regardless, it’s becoming a popular and much more encouraged step to take.

Oregon is apparently home to the American Gap Association, which currently “30,000 to 40,000” students take advantage of, according to a PBS and Associated Press article titled “5 things to know about a gap year, when students take time off.”

Advantage highlights in a gap year could include taking time to “recharge,” but could also hinder any progress if the time’s wasted.

The article goes on to mention how it’s more likely that higher-income income individuals will take a gap year as opposed to those from lower-income families.

Makes sense.

Taking a year off may be best if you need to plan more.

As long as someone isn’t using this time to do nothing but party around and do absolutely nothing, it’s an excellent opportunity to reflect on whether or not you really want to jump into your considered field of choice.

Mind you, I’m not recommending that you have no fun—all good things in moderation.

Meanwhile, prospective students will have a window to work part time and at least save up a little bit of cash on the side.

It’s nothing that could pay off an entire term’s tuition bill (record low wages sort of prevent this), but it may still help out as opposed to rushing into an undesired program.

I can personally attest to taking time off as well, as it gave me more time to consider exploring other options within the workforce and better decide what I wanted to do when I returned to school.

Initially meeting up with my general community college advisers didn’t seem to do much for me at the time, but reflecting on my desired career path options and then touching bases with my journalism adviser at the time made me feel like I had more options open, even if I decided I wasn’t into my first major of choice (turns out I loved it).

But in the end, one thing matters more than anything else:

You need to do what you know will work for you, whether or not college is included in your final step.

Take a year off or don’t based on what you need for your future.

It may seem odd to some folks who never had the opportunity, but times definitely appear to be changing.

The opinions expressed in Bassinger’s column do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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