“What are you doing after high school?” Instead of voicing her pride for her gap year, a knot formed in Ella’s stomach.
She feared what they would think of her when she said she was taking a gap year. “Will they think I was too dumb to get into college and that’s why I’m taking a gap year? Will they think I’m making the wrong choice or wasting my life? What will they think of me?” These questions raced through Ella’s head as she scrambled to find an answer. The idea of taking a break between high school and college to explore, grow, and experience new things is a concept that has been implemented all over the world. However, this trend is not as easily accepted into American culture. This may be a result of America’s obsession with quick progress and results. The American dream is to work hard, get into a prestigious college, immediately get a job, and be able to support your family. There doesn’t seem to be any time for a “break”. Gap years end up looking like a deviation from the path to success.
Gap years were a trend in the United Kingdom for many years before catching on in the United States. They began in the 1960s, and were thought of as a “hippie” route to take after high school. Gap years didn’t come into the American consciousness until many decades after, but the number of students taking gap years has risen 20% since 2006. Many colleges, such as Harvard, Princeton, NYU, and Georgetown have official deferment programs, which allow prospective students to wait a year before enrolling in college. Still, taking a year off between high school and college is very much going against the norm. It comes with its share of anxiety.