Gap years boost school success for returning students

By Marc Anthony Martinez

Gap years could help students be successful in college.  

Burn out from school, mental health issues, financial irresponsibility, and not knowing oneself can be helped by taking a gap year.

A gap year doesn’t necessarily have to be a year, it can be one semester off or a couple years, there is no specific timeline. 

Some high school graduates go to college without a plan or an idea of what they want to do because they’re still learning who they are.

 Many of these unprepared graduates still immediately attend college because they’ve been told their whole lives that they should do so, making them more vulnerable to burning out and dropping out.

 Taking a gap year can help high school graduates and current college students to work on themselves and figure out what it is they want to do to succeed in their academic journey.

 If a student gets anxiety in stressful situations, they can work to help with overwhelming workloads, socializing or pressure to succeed  in college. 

Some students may already be contemplating a gap year, but are scared or worried about what their parents may say. 

As adults, students can make the decision for themselves; if their  parents are disappointed, that’s okay because that’s part of being human. 

It won’t be the first or last time a student disappoints a parent. 

However, some may be pleasantly surprised with how their parents take the news of their decision to take a gap year. 

Natalina Monteiro, professor of political science, African American studies, and gender studies, is in favor of students taking a gap year. 

Monteiro said her advice to students who are scared or worried about talking to their parents about taking a gap year can use the Obamas as an example. 

“Malia Obama, the eldest daughter of President Barack Obama took a gap year before attending Harvard. If the daughter of the President of the United States took time off, I think you can too, and your parents will understand,” Monteiro said.

Monteiro also has a son who decided to take a gap year from school and traveled to Spain so that he can learn the language and get life experience. 

She said that it is good and helpful for young students to experience living on their own. 

“I think it makes them a complete human being,” Monteiro said. 

She said during her own gap year when she came to the United States, she realized that instead of pursuing chemistry she wanted to pursue politics.  

“Most of the wealthy people do it,” Monteiro said.

Student Jesel Neza Rivas said, “I think my parents would respect that decision.” 

He is in his first semester of college straight out of high school, but is not against taking time off if he ever needs it.

Student worker Linda Jacobo, who took a gap year during the pandemic, said, “Take a gap year if you’re not ready.” 

Jacobo said when she was ready to return, she was excited and ready to do better. 

She said using the resources available, from the academic maps to student counseling, helped her when she came back.

Freshman student Andrea Ulloa was is also for taking a gap year. 

She said she would take that time to work on her mental health if she ever needed too. 

She said those thinking about taking a gap year should just follow your gut. 

Gaining life experience and personal growth are other reasons why a gap year is helpful. 

Time off can be used to get a job and make some money for a while and transition to being an adult before they decide to start college.

Everyone is not meant to start college after high school or continue school. 

Students will be more ready to come back to school after using their time off to travel, work on mental health or whatever else. 

If you are thinking of taking one, do it. A gap year might be the best decision you could make and when you’re ready to come back, school will always be there.

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