Opinion | Why I’m taking a gap year before graduate school

Individuals looking to attend graduate school after college should consider taking a gap year.

Kyle Tristan Ortega, Opinions Contributor

I used to think that after I got my undergraduate degree, it was immediately off to law school for me — no breaks or anything like that.

But now that I am less than a semester and a half away from graduating, nothing seems more appealing to me now than a gap year.

Students looking to continue their studies after college should consider taking a gap year because of the possible benefits and opportunities that can come with a year off.

Originally, I did not plan on taking a break because I wanted to finish my studies and work in my desired field as soon as possible. Then, I would begin earning already — essentially living the American dream. However, I eventually realized that this was not the best course of action for me.

According to Sallie Mae, two-thirds of college graduates see attending grad school as the new minimum standard for professional careers. With more people viewing graduate degrees as a necessity, it may seem easier to finish graduate school as soon as possible. In fact, 63 percent of college graduates who seek a graduate degree will do so less than 12 months after completing their undergraduate degree.

There are multiple factors that made me change my mind about going to law school immediately after I finished my undergraduate degree. The most prominent of these factors is educational burnout.

I have been attending school for 19 years, and the thought of having to attend another three is mentally daunting. At least with a gap year, there will be time to rest and reinvigorate myself before eventually going back into academia.

It seems relevant for me to mention that I am not just after the rest. Another reason I want to take a gap year is to gain life experiences. There are plenty of things the four corners of a classroom do not teach you, and a gap year is one of the best ways to gain this knowledge.

For instance, during the year off, I can look for relevant job opportunities, engage in volunteer work, travel to places I have never been, study for entrance exams, etc.

You can of course still do all these things while attending classes or during summer break. However, a gap year provides you with more time to do so, with the benefit of allowing you to fully invest yourself in these experiences.

Taking a year off is a big commitment, but if spent properly, it will result in one of the most meaningful experiences a student can have.

Personally, the idea of getting my law degree as soon as possible still appeals to me whenever I think about it because it would allow me to get to work and advance my career sooner. I am sure that others see things the same way as well.

However, the thought of taking a break and engaging with other things in life for a year is vastly more appealing to me now. Quite frankly, I am exhausted and need a change of scenery.

Editor’s note: The number of University of Iowa undergraduates that go directly to graduate school is unavailable at this time.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.