Normalize gap years

By Olivia Martin | Social Media Editor

I never thought I would take a gap year after graduating high school.

Attending a four-year college had always been a dream of mine, and senior year I went through all the proper steps to ensure that happened.

Fast forward to just a few days before May 1, the day I dreaded the most (college decision day) and I still hadn’t picked a school. I wanted more options and more time, but I unfortunately didn’t have either of those. I ended up skipping school on college decision day because I didn’t have a T-shirt with my future college logo. I felt so insecure about not knowing where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, and it seemed like everyone else had found their dream school.

I ended up committing to a school in Michigan but after visiting it over the summer, I still did not feel certain. I remember crying on the phone with my mom when she told me that taking a gap year was a great option. I felt like my dreams of going to college like a normal freshman were being taken away from me. But then again, I really didn’t have a better option.

After officially deciding to take a gap year, I felt a lot of peace about it even though I knew I would be sad when my friends started leaving for college.

Instead of focusing on all the things I would be missing out on, I decided to make a plan for the year. Get a job. Travel. Find the perfect college.

Surprisingly, this plan became as close to reality as possible. I started working full-time at a local coffee shop and saved up all of first semester for a few trips, my biggest one being to New Zealand for two weeks with two of my best friends. Choosing Baylor was a very unexpected choice but has turned out to be one of my best decisions.

I am here to tell everyone that gap years need to be normalized. It is so sad how much pressure there is on seniors in high school to know exactly where they want to go and what they want to do. I am so thankful to my parents for being so supportive of my decision to take a gap year. I learned so much about myself and was actually able to figure out who I was before leaving my home state and family to go to college.

I can’t stress enough how important I think taking a year off before attending college is. Our culture is so focused on getting into the best college and getting the best job so you can make the most money. But what if we normalized taking time for ourselves so that we don’t burn out? What if we normalized taking some time to figure out who we are before going off to live on our own? What if we normalized the idea that seniors in high school may not be ready for college right away? Just an idea.