EDITORIAL: Life After High School and the Gap Between Students and Gap Years

By Staff

To overworked students, the idea of twelve months of freedom is extremely appealing. A year to slow down, gain invaluable work experience, or explore the world provides students with the time and opportunity to take a break and prepare to plunge into college.

But only a few 2012 Tam graduates took gap years, and if a survey were taken this year, it would undoubtedly yield similar results. There seems to be a disconnect between student interest in gap years, and our willingness to actually embark on them.

Ideally, a gap year provides students with invaluable possibilities for self discovery and exploration—and that may be part of the problem. For students utterly programmed to the routine of school, a sudden lack of structure may hurt more than it helps. A gap year should be rejuvenating, but productive; explorative, but focused. Without a plan, a gap year can become aimless or stretch beyond its allotted twelve months into no man’s land.

Finding and sticking to a direction is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the freedom of a gap year, but it also provides students with self control and willpower which will come in handy long beyond the scope of their education.

Further, if aimlessness is overcome, then a truly amazing experience awaits. Removal from the insulated bubble of Marin exposes you to other cultures, new experiences, and fresh perspectives.

Embarking upon a gap year places students firmly in the minority, and for some that may be deterrent enough. When counselors and adults prepare the vast majority of students who will follow a traditional path after graduation, useful gap year information is sparse. Maybe the remote gap year option is simply because, as students, we don’t know enough about our options.

Taking the leap from high school directly to college and beyond can be scary, but in our community it is the path most traveled, and perhaps the path of least resistance. Far more daunting is a step into the unknown—but maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. We at the Tam News advise you to choose the path that speaks most to you—be it college, travel, work, or simply focusing on what makes you happy.