With young people talking so much these days about the gap year, which is the year some take off between high school and going on to further schooling, it’s not surprising that some parents worry about the consequences of such a decision. To them it may sound like an excuse on the students’ part to avoid continuing their education altogether, rather than acknowledging the glowing opportunity it’s made out to be. They fret that their kids will enjoy being away from school so much that perhaps they’ll never return, which could have dire repercussions for the future.
It’s a legitimate worry, but in some ways, taking that extra time could actually save an educational future rather than destroy it. If students are feeling burned out from twelve long years of public school, then they may dread the thought of plunging immediately into even heavier studies. It’s possible that having one or two years experience doing something else will allow them to start anew with a fresher mind and more energy.
Goofing off doesn’t need to be the focus of the gap year either. It can be planned so that the young person continues with their education, but in a different location. It’s well known that a change of scene can often imbue an experience with fresh interest. Young people can align with specific agencies to find work relating to their area of study. Or students taking a year off in the middle of their program can use the skills they’ve already attained, and actually see how things work in practice rather than in theory.
Yet one can’t dismiss the worry that settling back into school life after an interesting and exciting year off may be difficult for the young person. A student might decide that working as a chambermaid in a hotel in Vienna is simply more interesting than going home to study economics. Parents certainly need to broach this issue, and discuss with their kids how their educational pursuits and future might be affected.
But what it comes down to is the fact that students will have to look at the future and make their own decisions. It may be that their gap year travel and work experiences do reveal other options, of which the young person had never been aware, pointing in directions that hadn’t been imagined before. Education may not necessarily just be acquired in the classroom; it’s possible that the contacts and experiences provided during the gap year will be educational in new and unexpected ways.
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