My projected graduation date was May 2019. Fortunately enough, I was able to graduate in May of 2018 instead. I decided to take a gap year following my graduation, and here are five reasons why you should too.
1. It gives you a chance to work/build a resume
I was able to work throughout my entire gap year and acquire a lot of very diverse job experience. I worked in a gym, with children (did those two simultaneously), and in a retail store. While it doesn't exactly pertain to what I want to do in the future, I gained many different, important life skills that will benefit me in any workforce. This will later benefit you when looking for internships because you will have a little more job/life experience than your peers.
2. I was able to save money
I had a job while I was in high school and I firmly believe everyone should have a job at some point while in college, but when you do that is important. As a first-year student, it may be hard to balance working part-time and the heavier, more rigorous college schedule. However, if you were able to save money before you went off to college, you could postpone when you got a new job by a semester or even two! If you had a job in high school and saved money then, think about how much more you could have by the end of the gap year. Then you may not have to be so frugal with your spending.
3. I learned a lot of life lessons
Throughout my year of mostly work and not much play, I learned quite a few life lessons that I feel can be delayed if you immediately go off to college. A big one was the lesson of patience. That may seem silly, but you don't realize how impatient you truly are until you see all your friends living it up at college while you're stuck at home working. The biggest difference is, while they're out partying and racking up debt, you're working to hopefully save yourself from some of the impending doom called student loans that you're going to have to face later on. So let them party, your time will come.
4. It gave me time to research majors/minors
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated high school, I had decided on it in seventh grade and thought that was it for me. If I had gone straight to college after high school, right now I'd be a struggling, tired, and overly stressed pre-neurosurgeon major… yikes! Lucky for me, I was able to figure out that what I originally had planned for myself wasn't the right path for me without losing money, credits, my time in the process. Now I've decided on a major and two minors I know I'm going to love and pursue after I graduate.
5. It gave me an extra year to get those SAT/ACT scores right where I wanted them
This one won't pertain to everybody, but to all my peeps out there that aren't the best test takers, I'm right there with you. I have never been great at taking tests, and the more important they are, the worse I normally do. There is so much pressure to do well on the SAT/ACT and some of us just need more time to do it. Whether that means taking the expensive classes, getting a personal tutor, or just taking the time and effort to study on your own, having that extra year can really lift a weight off your shoulders.
Everyone's situation is different. Some might not want to be a year behind their high school peers, some might have a strict five-year plan set out for themselves, mine was unique to me as well. For some of us, going to college immediately isn't always the best move. There's nothing wrong with taking a year to work and maybe grow up a little! The ability to spend a whole year figuring yourself out without the pressure of teachers, parents and even peers shoving the idea of a "normal" timeline down your throat is refreshing. I took a year off and am now beginning a degree I know I'll love at a college that has captivated my heart and overall interests. If I had made this decision a year ago, I wouldn't be where I am or as happy as I am today. Don't let society decide what's best for you, at the end of the day, you know you better than anyone. Just pick the path you feel is best and as long as you're doing it for the right reasons, things will fall into place.