Gap year provides students opportunity to mature

Danny Fookson, columnist

Attention, South students. I have something that can save your future. I know, what you just read probably sounded like one of those annoying infomercials urging you, high school teenagers, to buy Life Alert. It’s useless. But I’m not selling you anything; I’m just pitching an idea—an idea that can save your future. Don’t go to college—right away, that is. That’s an idea that every one of you high school students should think about seriously.

Face it. We are heading towards the biggest choice most of us will make in life thus far: what college to go to. But what if we’re skipping an essential question? What if the first question is whether or not we even decide to attend a university right after high school at all?

Answering the last question seems simple. College Counselor Anne LePage recently said at a senior assembly, that 96% of South students go on to attend a university after their senior year. If virtually everyone from South goes to college after their senior year, I don’t want to be the virtual none. Honestly, I looked down upon the kids who didn’t belong to a college when they graduated, until I heard one girl’s story.

Daniela Vargas, South graduate of 2014, decided that going straight to college was not for her. She is currently working while taking a gap year to explore her options.

“Right now, I’m looking into different universities and I’m going to apply in the next couple months,” Vargas said.

The first thing that Vargas revealed to me was that a gap year can be advantageous. A college degree is more and more desired to have on a resume, but a gap year gives the opportunity to consider more thoroughly where to get that degree.

Vargas also opened my eyes to a successful gap year when she said, “I’m stuck working for the year, but it’s pretty good. I’m making a little money, gaining that experience of living on my own before going to college.”

If you feel too uncomfortable with moving away to college without the experience of serious independence, take a gap year. Get a job. Rely on yourself and not your parents. Learn to do your laundry. And when you join those incoming freshmen your first year in college, you will be one big step ahead of them (granted you actually learn to do your laundry).

With a gap year, you can also take a few courses at a local college and learn what college classes are really like. A big fear that I have about going to college is that I won’t be ready for the amount of schooling I will have to do. Taking a few classes during my gap year can knock out that fear, as well as a few gen-eds.

While I initially thought that Vargas was at a disadvantage when it came to college, I soon realized that she has an edge over her peers. Not only does she get the opportunity to adapt to college more smoothly than kids that went straight to college, but she also has an outstanding background that will give her a unique voice. And a unique voice is something that every college is looking for.

That being said, most of you will still decide to attend a university right after high school—I expect that. But taking a gap year should not continue to be a stigma in our community. Make sure your choice for your future is right for you.