More and more, the idea of a gap year is becoming common for students who graduated from high school. Applying to college after a gap year is not uncommon.
Instead of going straight into college after graduation, some seniors are taking a year off from schooling to participate in other activities across the globe.
How to spend a gap year
Many students use a gap year to take a break from schooling and experience the real world. For many, this means finding a job and working a standard week.
The idea here is that it gives you a taste of what your life could be like if you don’t attend college.
If you dislike what you’re doing, you’ll probably be more motivated in college (and you’ll have saved up some good money to help cover the cost). If you’re happy with your job, perhaps college isn’t for you.
Other students spend gap years participating in unique activities. Some travel abroad, volunteering their time to various causes. Others will try to take their lives down a few different paths to see what feels best, such as starting a small business or participating in an internship.
Either way, if you decide to go to college, make sure your application is done in a timely manner and before the application deadline.
What do colleges think about gap years?
The way colleges and universities look at a gap year during your application probably will depend very heavily on how you spent that time.
College classes work quite differently from what you were accustomed to in high school so be aware that after a gap year, it may take a bit longer to get used to that.
If you didn’t really do anything during that year besides sitting around at home, it’s almost definitely going to reflect badly on you. It shows laziness and that you waste good opportunities.
However, if you spent the time well, such as participating in something you couldn’t have done during high school, I believe colleges will look at it very favorably.
Whereas most high school seniors will only have grades and some extra-curricular activities to show, you’ll have a pretty unique experience that could bring a lot to that school.
Is a gap year for you?
I believe that if you don’t have specific activities in mind for your year, a gap year probably isn’t your best choice when it comes to strengthening your application. Talk also to your future college about college credits that you earned in high school. Are there any consequences?
While volunteering and traveling abroad will look great, hanging around your hometown probably won’t bring anything to the table. In all cases, make sure that when you go to college, you’ll apply for a study loan in due time!
However, if you truly feel burnt out after high school and need a break for yourself, a gap year can help you find yourself. You’ll possibly be more motivated in college and do better. You’ll also get a lot more experience. You can also address this point when you visit the school’s campus to see what it is like.
Go to the same college as your friends?
I still remember getting my first acceptance letter from the first school I had applied to. My mom did the honors of reading the letter. The sound of her voice plays back in my head every time I think about it, “Congratulations! You have been accepted to Austin College.”
My parents were thrilled, that all my high school classes helped me to get into the school. I was proud of myself and my parents started to Tango in the living room, which was both embarrassing and awkward to watch even though no one else was around.
I was pretty happy that a small, private liberal arts college near home had accepted me. I understand that college classes work quite differently from high school classes so I’ll be fine.
However, I wasn’t very excited about the fact that none of my friends had applied to Austin College. I was scared that we would all go our separate ways and barely stay in contact. Getting used to a different way of attending classes in college without being able to reflect on that with my friends also scared me. Could I cope with that?
I was scared it would be like a corny teen drama, where a group of friends goes away to college only to return completely different individuals with nothing in common. Also, the thought of living with a complete stranger terrified me.
My best decision
After some encouraging words from my brother and a tour of the school’s campus, I decided to take the risk. I sent my letter of acceptance and embarked on my four-year adventure the following fall. In all honesty, it was the best decision I had ever made.
Although my roommate freshman year was a bit of a slob, everyone in my hall was so nice and very friendly. By the end of the first month, we were like brothers. We did everything together. I made even more friends during class and when I joined the soccer team.
By the end of the year, I had just as many good friends as I did in high school. The cherry on top came that June, when my high school friends and I had returned home for every student’s favorite time of year, summer.
We had kept in regular contact throughout the year, but hadn’t seen each other since we all left. To my delight, no one had changed. We were a bit more mature, but still the same goofballs.
We spent almost every summer night together talking about our experiences in college so far, the friends we made, and what lifestyles we were getting into. The only word to describe that summer was glorious.
Looking back on my college career and the study plan I had created to make it through college effectively, it makes me happy to have chosen a school that I believed was the best fit for me. Although there was some risk involved, I think that’s the beauty of college.
It’s a chance for you to branch out, broaden your horizons, make new friends as well as do some soul searching. So don’t pick a college because all your friends are going there. Pick a college that calls to you, where you can expand your knowledge inside and outside of the classroom, so you can discover who you are and who you want to be.
Going to college and your relationship
How does going to college impact your relationship? After graduating from high school, many couples have to face the tough decision about the future of the relationship.
Whether one of the two is still in high school or both are going to separate colleges, choosing how (or if) to continue is not at all easy. Make sure you attend Freshman Orientation to learn as much as you can about the place where you’re going to spend the coming years and try to make responsible decisions.
For most couples, this means entering a long-distance relationship. Going from seeing each other daily to as rarely as once a month is not at all easy, and it’s no surprise that nearly every long-distance relationship eventually ends by the end of freshman year. It takes a lot of work, and your relationship might not be up for it.
Talk as a couple
Don’t make a decision on your own about whether or not to break up. Be responsible and fair to your boyfriend/girlfriend — include him/her. The best way to reach a decision about your future as a couple is to talk as a couple.
Discuss how you both feel about possibly becoming a long-distance relationship and what potential you think your relationship has. Don’t assume that the other person feels the same way you do.
Here are a few things to think about, but bear in mind as you talk, that you should not make a decision on your own.
1. How do you feel? First off, you need to decide how you feel about a long-distance relationship. To do so, you need to evaluate your relationship:
2. Could this relationship have a future? Is this relationship something you really want to fight for? Do you value your boyfriend/girlfriend enough to do all you can to keep it going? Can you see yourselves together in the future, or has this relationship just been temporary?
If you don’t feel strongly towards the relationship or that it has any future, that’s an important sign. How long you’ve been going out definitely makes a difference here — a three-year relationship will be stronger than a two-month relationship.
3. How long will you be in a distance relationship? Will you two only be apart for a year? Two years? Four years? While still tough, being apart your first year of college is drastically different from being apart all four.
Remember that plans can change. Even if you two think you’ll be together the next year, there’s a high chance that just won’t happen.
4. Will this relationship hold you back? The “college experience” is real, though just what it is will vary from person to person. You need to decide what you expect from college, and if can you still achieve that with your current relationship. Will your boyfriend/girlfriend limit you from your dreams?
5. Are you up for this? Distance relationships aren’t for everyone. Are you up for the emotional wear and tear that one will put you through? Some traits can cause trouble. How many of these do you have? Check out also this post with useful tips on how to make your college entrance as smooth as possible.
6. How often will you see each other? Distance plays the biggest part here. Living twenty minutes apart and living ten hours apart make a huge difference. Can you handle how infrequently you’ll be together?
Going to college… How about your boyfriend/girlfriend?
Now that you go to college, there are, as always, some risks…
A few warning signs to look out for:
In a long-distance relationship, a lot of flaws with your partner will become immediately apparent. Here are some red flags you need to look out for and bear in mind when evaluating how you feel:
1. Clingy. If your significant other can barely stand to survive a day without seeing you, imagine how it will be when you see each other once a month.
A clingy person will be devastated by the distance, and you will be annoyed at constantly having to sacrifice what you’re doing to give him/her the attention that they need.
2. Jealousy. In college, you’re going to meet a lot of new people, both male and female. If your partner can’t handle you being friends with someone of the opposite sex, you’re in for a rough ride.
You’re a College Freshman now and being accused and frequently suspected of cheating gets old incredibly fast, and always reassuring your partner about your faithfulness takes its wear on you also.
3. Infidelity. If you’ve been cheated on by your boyfriend or girlfriend, you need to evaluate that situation and decide how likely it is to happen when you’re not there. Be honest with yourself — could it happen?
The last thing you want to find out is that you spent your first five months in college on a girl/boy who cheated on you the first chance she/he got.
4. Stubbornness. Can you guys work through arguments alright? Are you two both able to compromise appropriately, or do you find yourself constantly having to give more than you take?
If your significant other refuses to budge, this is going to create a ton of drama down the line once an argument pops up.
Is it even worth trying?
As I said earlier, most long-distance college relationships do fall apart in their first year. When I arrived at college, many of my friends had a girl/boyfriend back home, but by the end of the year, most had broken up.
Breaking up always sucks. But if you two just aren’t up for the distance, mutually agreeing to split up will save a lot of headaches and heartbreaks down the line.
Despite that grim advice, in general, I believe it’s usually worth trying: not every relationship falls apart. Two of my best friends and I all managed to keep our relationships over the year.
By reaching an understanding beforehand, you may be able to maintain the relationship. And, if it ends up collapsing, you may be able to keep a friendship. The biggest key is to talk. Be entirely honest with each other and reach an agreement that you guys can work with.
Last Updated on September 12, 2020