Bridging The Gap: What A Gap Year Really Is Told By Someone Who Actually Took One

For a majority of high school students, their education is done with the long term goal of seeking a college education and hopefully obtaining a degree. But college isn’t the end all be all for everyone, according to a report from CNBC, more than 30% of high school seniors are considering to withhold from pursuing any further education (including community college, trade schools, etc.)

So what exactly are they doing with this time? Well for most, they are labeling this time off as a gap year, a year of any prolonged period of time where traditional forms of education are not the primary focus. For every gap year participant, there is their own personal story as to why they are taking this time off. I sat down with a gap year participant named Josie to hear her story.

Her Campus Cincinnati: So first off in your own words, what is a gap year?

Josie: I think anything other than going to college. You know, for like a year or longer. Because everyone is so expected to go to college now that anything else would be considered taking a break.

Originally how many colleges did you apply and get into?

I applied to four and then got into three.

At the moment do you have any future plans to return to school and that includes any school, trade school or culinary school could fall into these categories as well.

Culinary school is the current plan.

What was your family’s reaction when you announced you were taking a gap year?

(laughs) Eek. It actually was the original plan to take a gap year at the beginning of senior year, then somewhere along the line I was convinced to go to college, then the week of orientation I didn’t want to go. So it wasn’t shocking, but it wasn’t celebrated.

What have been your peers’ reactions to the situation?

I don’t think it was positive, not necessarily. I don’t think as many people supported not going to college or taking a break. I think people who don’t know me are more supportive than friends.

What are some specific comments you’ve heard about your decision?

Oh, that I’m never going to go to school or I am… lost?

What are your reactions to statements like these?

I just say “I’m figuring it out and I don’t wanna just go to college to be in college or to make someone else happy.”

So just on average, what does a normal day in your life look like since you don’t have classes to fill them?

So I usually get up around 10 a.m., then I either go out with friends who don’t have classes at that time. Or I’ll do chores, I try and get domestic stuff done in the morning.

Can you elaborate on your living situation a little bit?

Yes, I still live at home with my mom, my sister and my dog Darcy.

Now back to your day.

After my mornings I typically babysit, well nanny really. It’s what I do for work at the moment, I am an after school nanny for two little girls and I do this in the summer as well. The hours aren’t the most stable though, it varies week to week. And then if I don’t babysit I end up at a coffee shop, I’ll either be with friends or working on projects.

What kind of projects?

I’ll either edit photos or edit some writing I’ve been working on, usually poetry.

So these are both skills you could further pursue through a college program, so why don’t you?

Because I don’t think these are things you need a college degree for, like I think you can pursue it without school. I would like to reserve my schooling for something you’d need a degree for if that makes sense?

Do you ever regret your choice?

No. I mean sometimes it’s weird cause I’m on such a different wavelength than everyone else but no, I made the right choice.

So as a finishing statement, what are some things you’ve accomplished in your gap year and what would you tell to students considering one?

Well to start, some things I’ve managed to accomplish have been mainly with my writing, I’m currently working on trying to get some of my poems published. I’ve also had time to really figure out what I wanna do and that’s been really good. I chose this because right after high school I just didn’t want to be in school anymore, I wanted a break from school. I think having something other to do other than school and like other people’s expectations is important. You need a hobby and you need a job. And you should do your best to be in the real world as much as possible, and not just at home. Try to break out of your comfort zone as much as possible.

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Immediately after our interview ended, she asked “Do I sound like a douchebag?” The negative stigma surrounding those who choose to not attend college is severe. For some this pressure and negative association can drive them to end up going to school even if it’s not in their hearts.

Understanding that college is not for everyone is important. We need people who don’t pursue your typical higher education. Even schooling, such as culinary and trade, is often scorned upon for no real good reason. This interview was done with the hope of opening up the world of someone on the road less taken.

Ultimately what you choose to do with your life should be your own decision, as easy as it is to preach this it is often harder to follow through with such intent. Those who do have that certain bravery many of us may never understand.