Editor’s Column: The Merits of Taking a Post-Grad Gap Year

Jace DeMar, Assistant Commentary Editor

Like many juniors, I have been thinking a lot recently about my post-grad plans. Some people already know what job they want to get or what kind of grad school they want to go to, and others are filled with dread and uncertainty at the very thought of the question. I fall into the latter category. If anything, I am much more uncertain now of what I want to do with my life than when I came to Colgate. Many of my friends are constantly networking or attending super days in New York City for various investment banks. Seeing all of these incredibly focused people around me used to give me anxiety because of how woefully unfocused I was in this respect. That is, until recently.

Over fall break, my uncle gave me the idea of taking a gap year between finishing undergrad and going to grad school. I was a little skeptical at first, but he pointed out to me that this would likely be the only time in my life where I would be mature enough to travel around the world by myself, young enough to still do it and without the responsibilities of a family, career, bills, mortgages and everything else that comes with being a “real” adult. “Seeing the world” had always been one of the things that I had dreamt of doing, but I always thought that it would be one of those things that I would do someday after I had a family and likely retired from whatever career I was in. I had never thought about it being something that I should do sooner rather than later.

I have always been a believer in taking the time to “stop and smell the flowers,” so-to-speak. Taking time to reflect and take stock of life is crucial in order to enjoy it. Otherwise, it will pass us by before we know it. The time right after finishing undergrad seems like a natural opportunity to do this. Not to sound too cliché, but at this point, we truly do stand at the threshold of the rest of our lives. We will have just wrapped up what we consider to be our formative years and we will stand ready to embark on starting a career and building our own lives. I know that I will have big decisions to make—will I shell out the money to go to law school or will I decide to pursue something else instead, for example—and I don’t want to jump into them too fast because they will affect the course of the rest of my life. Taking time to really think and find out what it is that I truly want out of life unburdened by the pressures of a rigorous academic environment, might just be the best way for me to do this.

Of course, I understand that taking a gap year isn’t right for everyone. Some people need to start making real money right after graduation, and I think that is very respectable. I certainly plan on doing something for work or an internship should I take a gap year (I haven’t gotten far enough to know what that would be). Other people already have it together and know what they want to do. If anything, I envy these people to an extent. All that I am trying to say is that people shouldn’t be afraid to take a gap year because it might just be the opportunity that they’ve been waiting for their whole life.