Is a Gap Year the right move for you?


Hailey Swisher, Staff Writer

Gap years are more common in Europe than the United States, but recently there has been more of a push to get American students to take a year off before college.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Michael Simeck urged parents to consider the benefits of a gap year.

” Be it four-year vs. six-year graduation rate, GPA, or social-emotional well-being in college, statistics indicate all desirable outcomes for students are simply better for those who have taken a gap year,” Simeck wrote.

On Wednesday, a representative from Where There Be Dragons will be available in the College and Career Resource Center from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They offer gap year programs in Asia, African and Latin America. LFHS endorsed two other informational meetings on gap years earlier this year.

American Gap Associations statistics show that 98% of students say taking a gap year helped them develop as a person, and 97% say it increased their maturity. 84% of students say it helped them acquire skills to be successful in future careers and 73% say it increased their college readiness.

According to, gap years can add to a student’s resume, help recharge batteries to avoid academic burnout, assist with personal growth and maturity, and boost life experience.

“Any student who is not really sure why they are going to college and has never really been away from home before should consider a gap year so they can learn how to be independent while not potentially wasting a ton of money,” social worker Daniel Maigler said. “Then when they go to college they will be a year older and more mature and ready for the experience.”

A pressing question that comes to mind when considering a gap year is whether colleges would support the decision, and whether or not it would influence admissions decisions.

“Nearly every college and university in the nation will allow students to defer their admission to the following year.”

— Superintendent Michael Simeck

“Many colleges actually encourage gap years for students,” Simeck said in his letter to parents. “Nearly every college and university in the nation will allow students to defer their admission to the following year.”

The expectations put on high school students can be overwhelming and mentally exhausting. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Psychological Association, more than eight in 10 students report moderate to extreme stress levels because of school.

“Another group of students who should consider a gap year are pre-med students.  The grind of college and med school is incredibly long and it can give these type A students a chance to catch their breath before engaging in such intense study,” Maigler said.

Proponents of  gap years say they provide an opportunity for students to be given a break, or if they choose, it can be a hands on year that strays from the traditional high school to college path.

There are such concrete normals in society nowadays, specifically for students. They are expected to attend high school for four years, graduate, and then attend college for a minimum of four years. Once they graduate college they are expected to find a job and commit the majority of their life to working.

Though this is the lifestyle many want and find fulfillment in, some need a year to stray from this path and experience life in a not so traditional way.

They can be spent exploring the huge world that’s out there, rather than remaining in the comforts of the bubble that has protected you throughout adolescent years.

Katie Arch, a freshman at Northeastern University, decided to take a semester off to travel. She went to Australia where she was able to become immersed in a culture so different than the one she had grown up in.

“I know my semester in Australia will be my favorite of all four years,” Arch said.