Gap years becoming an appealing alternative to college
Bonnie Bordner, art education senior, talks with Tracey McGhee, senior HR coordinator for Tucson Unified School District, about job opportunities with TUSD at UA Career Services’ Career Day on Tuesday. Some students decide to take a year or more off during the school year or in between high school and college.
For some students, gap years are becoming an appealing option before jumping into university life.
A gap year is a year off from schooling that students can take for a variety of reasons, including personal issues, financial troubles and not feeling ready to make the transition from high school to college.
Alexandra Eugenio, a nursing sophomore, took a gap year after high school before attending the UA in the fall of 2012. Eugenio was working with a Bahá’í religious program called the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, and said the gap year gave her time to become a mentor for children and help them connect with each other and their community through the word of God.
“College was always in my plan, but taking a gap year wasn’t,” Eugenio said. “The gap year gave me the amazing opportunity to mature and calm life down before starting my college career, and provided me time to get a feel for living on my own and experience life outside of school for a year.”
Marissa Jamalyn Ray, a global studies freshman, took her gap year after high school in order to work so she could help her mother pay for utilities and raise her younger brother.
“It was the best option for me in the moment,” Ray said. “I ended up getting a human resources job that forced me to gain a lot of impressive skills that look amazing on my résumé.”
Ray said gap years can be worthwhile, but only if they don’t turn into permanent decisions to not attend college.
“Gap years are only for a certain group of people, because it is really easy to get caught up in the money,” Ray said. “If you don’t have the drive to give up the work life for your education, you won’t go back, and it is hard to succeed without a degree.”
Eugenio said she would suggest gap years to anyone with the drive to return to college for their education and the dedication to work through stressful situations.
“College is a very different environment from high school, because you are not living at home,” Eugenio said. “There is so much stress balancing everything, so it was good for me to accustom myself to living on my own before I did so with all of the added stress.”