Good gap, bad gap

June 12, 2008 by Jen

It’s amazing how many different people want to ring in on the question of taking/not taking a gap year between undergraduate and graduate work. The range of advice I have heard is extensive.

Sitting out a year is good

  • It makes you appreciate school
  • It gives your brain a rest
  • It helps you sort out what to do next
  • It allows you to make money
  • It looks good on your resume

Sitting out a year is bad

  • It gets you accustomed to a paycheck
  • It lets your brain go soft
  • It makes you lose focus
  • It looks bad on your resume

The most amusing are the reactions from people who give their advice before they realize that I am, in fact, taking a gap year. Some have emphatically told me, “Taking a break is the worst thing to do for your career and your education. It’s almost impossible to go back.”

And then I casually mention, “That’s a shame. I’m actually sitting out for a year before I head on to grad school.”

The look of consternation on their faces is almost, ALMOST worth the clenched feeling in the pit of my stomach.

In all honesty, I’m not sure if a gap year will be good for me or not. I might be more concerned if it had been a choice. Since it wasn’t, I have to make the best of it, for better or for worse (all the weddings must be going to my head).

Ultimately, what I do with this year is what matters.

Perhaps the comments, while taking the scab off a fairly recent wound, drive me to keep my focus and reaffirm my commitment to starting grad school in 2009. Or maybe they just inspire me to check out beginning Italian and Edgar Allen Poe in French from the library.

That 20-page prologue in French should keep me busy for a while. Aimes-tu les dialogues philosophiques qui ont pour thème la vie après la mort?

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