Returning From Gap Year: A Letter Of Confidence

For many, 2018 is their first year of college. It's the beginning of their 'four-year ride' through young adulthood to walk across the stage. For others, it's the end of one chapter in their lives as they complete school, and the entry into a new definition of 'adulthood.' But for some, stepping back on to campus marks the return from a pause they had to place some time ago. Whether it was one semester, one year, or even one decade, the return to college life is one that is very overwhelming. I decided to take a year off from school when I realized my community college's class listing became very limited to my availability. Life got in the way of my 'progress' and I began to feel the pressure of it.

The voices of everyone around me, relentlessly questioning when I would go back to school weighed on my shoulders almost as much as my gap year had. Questions began of 'when I would 'get back on track', 'when I would get serious about my future,' and the biggest hit of them all, 'when I would do something with my life.' While their questions came from a place of worry and concern, it certainly didn't make my choice any easier or me consciously feel much better. It led to many tear-filled nights and wondering if I would ever do anything worthwhile.

Taking a break from school at any time is a very difficult decision. You have to face the reality that the backlash from that decision could be great. Even when you don't want to let their words and judgment get to you, it still stings. In the time you're out of school, anything can happen. Life can get rocky, you may go in a direction you never expected. With the weight of your decisions and the words of others weighing on you, you may wonder if you can even bring yourself to return to school and give one hundred percent.

But what is important for the reader to know is that it is okay. If you're returning to school for the first time in any period of time, you should be proud of yourself.

In my year and a half off, I debated what I would do with my life. In fact, I'm still not sure. My final semester at a community college was filled with frustration and tears as I came to terms with the fact that I may have to take time off. In that year off I worked full time at different jobs, moved, dealt with the fallout of major decisions in my life, and am learning to focus on myself once more. The confidence I have gained has helped me make calls on things I wouldn't have been sure of almost two years ago. The woman walking back into campus, even without a clear path or decision on what she'll be doing, is ready to find that out and do whatever it takes to reach that realization.

To the students, whether online or at a brick-and-mortar campus, returning to the hectic life of a student whether that's full or part-time, you are doing something amazing. You're not alone either! The official website for the American Gap Association has shown that 90% of students that take a gap year return to school in one year. For the majority of those students, the time spent away from school brought them life-changing events that have made them stronger as individuals. In that personal growth, their determination to return to school was renewed in some way to continue on with their college life. That year off helped students gain experience and confidence as they went on countless journeys in their lives to become the person that was ready to return to class!

So if you're returning to campus whether it's the second time or fifth time, take a deep breath! You're going to be okay! There are tons of resources online for you whether it's making the decision to take your gap year or how to prepare for your return. Hold your head up high and take confidence in your return to your education toward your degree. Take advantage of your counselors and advisers on campus. Enroll in programs built for student success and be active on campus as well. You'll most likely meet students on campus who have been through similar situations. Sharing your experiences and helping others who are returning from their gap year builds a stronger community and confidence in their decision.​

Welcome back to school. No matter what class you'll be graduating in, know you're one step closer to walking the stage! From one gap year student to another, you got this and I believe in you! We can do this!