Just after I graduated high school, I decided to take a gap year.
My plan changed a lot throughout the second semester of my senior year. At first, I had my heart set on a small private school ten hours from home. But, I ended up committing to a large, in-state university instead. I thought that that was where I was meant to go, but a month after I dropped my deposit, I realized that there was no place for my heart at that school, and it was simply not my “destiny.” I opted to stay home and live with my parents, and I even began the process of signing up for community college classes – but again, I still wasn’t satisfied. Thus, my year off began.
I decided to take a gap year because I wanted to fully immerse myself in pursuing a music career as a singer/songwriter, and I found that it was definitely the path I was meant to take. I have accomplished so much and grown tremendously as a writer, artist, person, etc. since last summer, and I want to offer my insight to anyone considering taking a gap year of their own.
DO: evaluate why you want to take a gap year.
Is it that you just want to take a break between high school and college? You aren’t sure what you want to do yet? Whatever it is, pinpoint it. It is a big, important decision. Talk to your teachers, your parents, friends you have that are already in college, people you know who have taken a year off. If you have a specific goal that you want to focus on during your year off like I did, have a plan. Which takes me into our first DON’T…
DON’T: take a gap year if you just wanna “chill” for a year.
Listen (or read, I guess) very closely: if you do not have a plan, you will waste a year of your life. Did I waste my gap year? Absolutely not, but I know that I could have. I had so many opportunities to fall into that trap. Once you graduate high school, time passes much more quickly that it did before, and you do not want to waste that time. If you’re going to take a year off, make sure that your reason is legitimate enough to support your choice.
DO: take opportunities and push your boundaries.
If you have the money to travel, do it. Take the trip. Go there. Backpack through Europe. Hike the Grand Canyon. Take this year to do the things that you may never get another chance to do. Apply for the internship – accept the internship. Do the volunteer program. Sign up for a marathon, and train your butt off for it. Find a full-time day job, work hard to save as much money as possible before you do decide to start school. Heck, start a blog! This is your time to expand as a person. Exercise your mind, body, and soul, because this year off may even be the year that helps you decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.
DON’T: let people discourage you.
Though this has definitely begun to change in recent years, a large part of our society is still quite stuck on the “four-year college degree” construct. I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but college is not for everyone. It’s just not. Going to a four-year school straight out of high school is not for everyone. It’s money, it’s compromise, and it’s a big life decision. Not everyone has the luxury of doing what society thinks they should do. You have to do what is best for you. Community college is a fantastic option as a transition between high school and college if you don’t want to do a full-on year off. It’s so financially frugal compared to paying for a larger university, especially if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to do. Anyways, my point is just that going against the grain always presents it’s challenges. People will say things to you that they don’t realize comes off as unsupportive and deterring, but that’s okay. If you’ve got your head on straight and you know why this is the best choice for you, you have no reason to defend your decision or seek approval from those who may not understand.
So, here’s me (and my best friend Sam ❤ ) at high school graduation, just before I decided to take a year off and begin my journey. The funny thing is that a few short months prior, taking a year off wasn’t even on my radar, but now here I am, twelve months later, doing exactly what I used to be afraid of.
What seems impossible, isn’t always as impossible as you may think.
© Kate Stedelbauer and AbundantlyKate, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kate Stedelbauer and AbundantlyKate with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.