Gap years are plans too!

Mount Allison bachelor of arts students weigh in on the discussion surrounding the pros and cons of taking a gap year

As graduation approaches for some students, they may be wondering, what comes next? Taking a gap year might help them figure that out. Savannah Forsey/Argosy

It’s that time of year again. The latest batch of Mount Allison grads are preparing to embark on the next chapter of their lives. Cap and gown photos are being taken, trips are being planned and final degree requirements are being filled. The dreaded “What are you going to to next?” question is being asked now more than ever. When you don’t have concrete plans for the future, this can be a tricky question to navigate.

Completing or working toward a bachelor of arts degree is no easy feat. It is costly, time-consuming and emotionally taxing. Sometimes, taking time to explore different options is a better choice than investing in a program that you have reservations about.

On the benefits of taking a gap year, former Mt. A psychology student Isaac Humber said, “I think it can be a good idea for some people that may not know what they want to do. It’s also a good alternative for people that may not be able to afford the cost of university.”

Taking a gap year was a great option for Ainslie Campbell, a fourth-year english and history student. “Part of my plan for my gap year is to figure out what I want to pursue in grad school,” she said. “I feel spoiled by Mt. A’s flexibility; I’ve had the chance to take classes in a wide variety of subjects and now I have to narrow that down.”

We tend to forget just how much school young adults have had to endure by the time they reach university. “I’ve been in school for 17 years and I think it’s okay to spend some time doing something different,” Campbell said. “I’m giving myself a year to figure out what I want.”

Austin Allen, a fourth-year english student, is taking a gap year upon graduation as well, before possibly entering a teaching program. “I look forward to experiencing a slight change in my life,” Allen said, after “having been a student consecutively for the past 18 of my 22 years of existence.” On the potential limitations of a gap year, Allen said, “Such limitations come with every decision you make in your life. Every chosen course of action is essentially preventing you from pursuing any other potential route.”

Because it is much more common these days to pursue a bachelor’s degree, we often feel pressured to keep jumping through the post-grad hoops until we are through them all. Allen reassured students who feel pressured by friends and family to pursue school options they are hesitant about. “If continuing your education immediately after completion of a previous degree is going to make you feel mundane and depressed, then take some time off! There are no rules here,” he said.

Taking a gap year is still a plan. It is an answer to those pesky questions that you can wear like a badge of honour. It also helps to know that you are not the only one taking some much needed time away!

As Campbell said, “I think there is the perception that you lose momentum when you take a gap year, but I also think it’s becoming more and more common. We’re young, [and] we’ve got plenty of time.”

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