Hi all 🙂 Today I am going to talk about something that there is not a ton of information about online; taking a gap year between college and graduate school. There is a lot of information on the web about taking a gap year between high school and college but not a lot of information on taking a gap year between college and graduate school.
Very early on in my academic career I realized that just getting a bachelor’s degree was not going to cut it for what I wanted to do career-wise. Before I decided I wanted to be a teacher I wanted to be a marriage and family therapist. Both career paths require more than a bachelor’s degree.
When I was in my junior year of college I told my mom that I wanted to keep on going to school after I got my bachelor’s degree and she suggested taking a year off. I was worried that I wouldn’t go back but my mom looked at me said, “You will definitely go back.” So I decided to take my mom’s advice and take a year off.
After I graduated college it felt like a major bubble had been popped. For five years I had made getting a college degree my entire life. I had planned, studied, and worked my butt off to achieve this goal. All of a sudden I felt a little lost-I was scared about what the future held. I didn’t know what the next step was for the first time in my life. I had been in school since I was five-school was all I knew.
I eventually got over that initial sense of panic and started enjoying life outside of academia. It was a relief not to have my life revolve around writing papers, studying, and making sure I got to class.
I grew up a lot in my gap year. I am learning how to manage my money better and how to be more domestic. I am in a constant quest to be more organized and one of my goals is to learn how to cook. My life has a lot more balance as I have learned my life does not have to be all work and no play. I also learned that your work performance is enhanced when you have a life outside of work.
This August I’m going back to school. I’m going to Merritt College to obtain my Associate Teacher certification which will enable me to work in preschools and the following fall (2014) is when I plan on entering a teaching credential program.
After a year off I am ready to go back to school. I’m excited to be studying something I know I want to be studying and to go back wiser, refreshed, and truly eager to learn. I’m going back because I truly want to go back. I’m not gong because I feel like I have to-it is because I want to.
I have always enjoyed school but towards the end of my senior year of college I started hating school. For me studying psychology did not allow me to be creative or independent in the way that I wanted to be creative and independent. This did not work for me. The general notion in psychology is that you don’t get to have an opinion until you have a PhD.
When I took a child development class in my last semester of college it was like a whole new world opened up. I was allowed to have an opinion (provided that I gave examples) and to be creative. It wasn’t me citing journal after journal. We had lively discussions in my class and everyone was passionate about what they were learning. I always say that psychology and child development are like cousins in the academic family. Psychology lends itself very well to child development and education. I am glad I have a degree in psychology, however I definitely enjoy studying child development and education more than I enjoy studying psychology.
Taking a gap year was the right decision for me. I think had I continued my education right after graduating I would have crashed and burned. I needed a break. I focused on working and really taking the time to figure out what I wanted my adult life to be like.
A lot of people I know who are lawyers, scientists, and teachers supported the idea of taking a gap year and many had done it themselves. I highly recommend it.