According to the American Gap Association, students are increasingly deciding to take a gap year before coming to college, and recent data show they could be greatly benefitting from this.
The American Gap Association cited an independent study of 280 gap-year students that said burnout from the pressure of high school and a desire to learn more about themselves were the top two reasons to take time off before attending school. According to the study, students who took gap years gained a better self-understanding, were more committed to their chosen major and gained skills that contributed to their careers.
Shannon Cavanagh, sociology and women’s and gender studies associate professor, said she suspects the mentality of the students who decide to take gap years plays a big part in the advantages associated with it.
“Taking time off and figuring out what you want to do, likely, has all kinds of benefits, but the real advantage comes from having the foresight and support to forego what is expected and do something different,” Cavanagh said. ”
Anna Biondi, social work and Plan II freshman, said she spontaneously decided to take a gap year after she had been accepted to UT. Biondi spent her year off in England volunteering at a boarding schools. She said her time off helped confirm that social work is what she wanted to do.
“The biggest benefit of taking a gap year was getting to experience a year of life on my own in another country,” Biondi said. “I gained perspective and had an experience unique to that of my peers.”
Mathematics freshman Erika Herod said she forced herself into a gap semester after realizing she had no motivation to go to any of the colleges that had accepted her.
“It started off as being something that I had to do because I hadn’t chosen a college, but it turned out to be the best seven months of my life,” Herod said.