Take a break: students consider taking a gap year


Photo courtesy of Heidi Peters

Hannah Gonzalez, Hinsdale Central class of 2015, took a gap year last year to study dance at the Joffrey School of Ballet.

In the midst of college essays and applications deadlines, many seniors have been spending a lot of their time think about their life after graduation. While most tend to pursue the traditional route of continued studies at college, there are a select few who have different plans. Recently, taking a gap year has become a common thing among high school seniors, and I’m all for it.

Although gap years can go horribly wrong if not planned out, it can also be the most amazing experience a pre-college student may experience. Whether it be spent traveling, working, or continually deciding, gap years can be a great decision for some.

Ninety percent of students who took a gap year return to college within a year, so the misconstrued beliefs about failure to return to college are discredited. Other benefits come with taking a gap year, like, for example, taking a year to gain much-needed experience in the field you plan to pursue when at college.

And these are the exact thoughts that have come through some of Central’s own students. Kaja Schueler, senior, plans to take a gap year after graduation. She plans to spend the majority of her year in Paris, as an Au Pair, or a full-time, live-in nanny to a French family with children.

“I’m going to Paris because I want to become fluent in French,” Schueler said. “Since I’m going to major in fashion merchandising, being fluent in three of the most spoken languages, especially French, will really help me set myself apart.”

Schueler’s always had an interest in language, and is fluent in German and English. She plans to perfect her knowledge of the French language through this experience. She also loves the idea of spending some time in the fashion capital of the world. Schueler plans to attend the University of Alabama once the gap year is done.

“Living in one of the biggest fashion cities in the world at such a young age, and being immersed into that culture and language will hopefully give me an advantage not only in college, but also later on when I’m starting my career,” Schueler said.

Other students have also started to look into the idea of taking a gap year. Bonnie Budelman, senior, has been planning to take a gap year in India, where she grew up.

“I know I may want to go back to India and maybe volunteer or intern there,” Budelman said. “Everyone that I know that has done [a gap year] has really been glad they did.”

With a gap year, students can travel the world, learn things they won’t necessarily learn in the classroom, and develop themselves. A gap year is a great idea, as long as it’s planned out and organized.

“Gap years are a good idea if you spend it doing something productive and you have a well thought-out plan,” said Sophie Palo, senior.

The key to having a successful gap year is organization. As long as students understand that the year shouldn’t just be used to kick back and relax, they should be open to the idea.

Hannah Gonzalez, a Red Devil 2015 Alum, took a gap year after her senior year. She spent the year studying dance at the Joffrey School of Ballet, and has never been more grateful for the opportunity.

“Taking a gap year can be scary due to certain stereotypes and people judging you for not going to college right away,” Gonzalez said. “But for me, it was an experience of a lifetime that bettered me as a person and a dancer.”

Gonzalez now attends the University of Utah and is on track with graduating with the rest of her classmates. She’s even pursuing a double major.

So, as you seniors begin to decide your near futures, don’t leave a gap year out of your considerations. It may just be the perfect experience to launch you into adulthood. Websites, like Carpe Diem Education can help you find the perfect future plans.