College, Trade School, Gap Years: Conflicting Career Choices


Cassidy Andersen, Journalist

Graduating from high school can be scary. Going from knowing what the next few years of your life will be like, to the struggles of where to go to college, what career path to take, what trade school to go to, what branch of the military to join, etc. An increasing number of students have decided to take a gap year following graduating high school.  Research from Foundry10 found that 20% of students took a gap year from 2020 to 2021 compared to just 3% in 2018.

“I think they decided to stop school because of everything that has happened with the pandemic. I think a lot of people are tired of school and putting in the work and are ready to just dive straight into the workforce,” said an anonymous,11, student.

The pandemic has played a part in students’ decisions post-high school. Maybe they realized they wanted to do something else or they lost an opportunity to get their foot in the door.

“School was kind of stressful and post-pandemic it’s still stressful, trying to adjust back to normal ways of how it was before, so i do think it played a big part,” said an anonymous student.

A gap year could be beneficial if a student doesn’t know what they plan to do, if they aren’t mentally prepared for college, or if they want to save up money to help pay the costly tuition fees. 

“I would take a gap year because focusing on working and preparing myself mentally would be beneficial for my future year,” an anonymous student, 11, said.

Some students have career paths that would not benefit from a gap year, one that would be going into the military and a career that may not be the best for a gap year would be going into the medical field. In the case of Stephen Miller, 10,  he believes a gap year could benefit his career.

“I personally would take a gap year for the field I’m going into too. I think it would help to have an extra year of practice and gain more experience since I’m going into music education. I really want to get a feel for all kinds of music and ways to play it, before I can teach it,” said Miller.

On the other hand, Nia Wiggins, believes that a gap year would not benefit now, but maybe later on.

“I wouldn’t consider taking a gap year after high school, since I want to start working towards my degree right away, but I would consider taking a gap year if I need a break, more money, and more work experience,” Nia Wiggins, 12, said.

One factor that could contribute to more students deciding to take a gap year would be not knowing what career path they decide to follow, or not knowing if college is the right fit for them.

“Students want to know if school is really what they want and not just another expectation. You’ve been in school for so long and you become tired of it,” said Miller, 10.

Athletes may not want to take a gap year, because they may be looking to commit to a school early on and a gap year could stunt athletic growth.

“My dream my whole life was to be in the NFL, I didn’t have anything else. I already have scouts from ODU, Virginia Tech, and Maryland, so a gap year would not be beneficial for me,” Malachi Mitchell, 12, said. 

Ultimately, students have options. A gap year may help or it may not be the best option. Choosing a career path is difficult, but one can always try something different.

“Plans change because you realize that going straight to college may be better for you, but also a gap year could be beneficial as well. A gap year may benefit me, but not everyone’s the same,” said an anonymous student.