The Southerner

Be happier; take a gap year

Celina+Barnett-Cashman%2C+class+of+2017%2C+went+on+a+gap+year+this+year+before+attending+college.+Pictured+here+at+The+Monkey+Farm+in+Playa+del+Coco%2C+in+the+Guanacaste+province+of+Costa+Rica%2C+Barnett+Cashman+enjoyed+her+year+because+it+was+break+from+the+common+high+to+college+pathway.+%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+definitely+given+me+the+perspective+that+I+don%27t+have+to+lay+out+my+life+the+way+that+society+makes+me+think+I+have+to+lay+it+out.%E2%80%9D
Celina Barnett-Cashman, class of 2017, went on a gap year this year before attending college. Pictured here at The Monkey Farm in Playa del Coco, in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, Barnett Cashman enjoyed her year because it was break from the common high to college pathway. “It’s definitely given me the perspective that I don't have to lay out my life the way that society makes me think I have to lay it out.”

Celina Barnett-Cashman, class of 2017, went on a gap year this year before attending college. Pictured here at The Monkey Farm in Playa del Coco, in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, Barnett Cashman enjoyed her year because it was break from the common high to college pathway. “It’s definitely given me the perspective that I don't have to lay out my life the way that society makes me think I have to lay it out.”

Photo courtesy of Celina Barnett-Cashman

Photo courtesy of Celina Barnett-Cashman

Celina Barnett-Cashman, class of 2017, went on a gap year this year before attending college. Pictured here at The Monkey Farm in Playa del Coco, in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, Barnett Cashman enjoyed her year because it was break from the common high to college pathway. “It’s definitely given me the perspective that I don't have to lay out my life the way that society makes me think I have to lay it out.”

Livia Lund, Editor-in-chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






I never really thought of myself as someone who would take a gap year. I was familiar with the idea but never thought, ‘That’s me! I need to do that!’ However, when senior year hit and the stress of college applications increased in the fall, I was less and less excited at the idea of immediately continuing school the following year. Facing another four years of essays and stress made me feel anxious and tense.

So, I created this vague daydream of working on a farm and just being somewhere else, in a place where due dates and responsibilities weren’t a thing and my year wasn’t defined by a class schedule. Then I realized what that daydream was: a gap year.

One of my main reasons for wanting to taking a gap year is simply to experience a year without school and to take a mental break from academics. With so much pressure put on students to go into college right away and to get a job after graduating, this felt like a way to slow it down and take control of my own life.

“I’m looking forward to getting out of the schedule that school has ingrained in us,” said senior Saryn Sherrell, who will be working and travelling next year. For Celina Barnett-Cashman, class of 2017, taking a gap year has changed the way she thinks about her life plan. Barnett-Cashman worked, aided in disaster relief, and volunteered for various organizations in Costa Rica. “It’s definitely given me the perspective that I don’t have to lay out my life the way that society makes me think I have to lay it out,” she said.

A common reason against taking a gap year is that it can be expensive. Many “gap-year programs” cost thousands of dollars and don’t offer a lot of flexibility with place or time. However, it’s important to note that there is not one right way to do a gap year. To me, the point of the year is to to unwind and do what works for me. The reasoning of senior Mateo Pignatello, who plans on working on organic farms and traveling solo, is simply to “do something that no one had told me to do.”

In some ways, gap years can in fact save you money. Many people go into college not knowing what they want to study; taking a gap year can give you time and space to figure out what you are passionate about. This was one of the main reasons Barnett-Cashman took a gap year, after struggling with decisions about her future in her senior year of high school. “I made a final decision [to take a gap year] because I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do [enough] to spend money on it,” she said.

Sherrell agreed. “I think [a gap year is] a good option, just to figure yourself out because you don’t really know what you want to do…when you’re 18 years old,” she explained. “It’s a lot of money to spend on [college] not knowing [what you want to study].”

If you want to travel, there are cheaper ways to do it. Programs such as Workaway or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) give you thousands of groups all over the world that will give you food and place to stay for some amount of volunteer work in return. This can be anything from working in a bed and breakfast in France to helping at a monkey farm in Costa Rica, as Barnett-Cashman did.

The advantages of taking a gap year don’t end when the gap year does. Taking this time away from school can also help you learn to live more independently. In addition, having a year to grow and have new experiences — whatever that means to you — gives you a different perspective on the world then going to college fresh out of high school.

“You just grow up in a way that I don’t think you can as a freshman in college,” said Barnett-Cashman. Although Sherrell is still not sure what her year will look like, she does know she wants to explore new ways of learning. “ I don’t want to waste a year of my life. I want to learn in different ways then school.”

One part of my gap year is tied down: I will be working in northern Minnesota at Maple Lag, a ski resort which I’ve gone to the past three winter with South’s Nordic ski team. However, the majority of it is uncertain, with the possibility of doing disaster relief or a workaway program in France. Whatever it is, I’m excited for the chance to do something different then what I’ve known for the past 12 years.

As I think about the year ahead of me I still have some doubts. Will I miss out on experiences my friends going to college will have? Will it be expensive? Will I get lonely? I am most encouraged by people like Barnett-Cashman who have gone through the gap year process and come out happy. “I’m just so so so glad I took a gap year. I think everyone should take one.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Writer
Livia Lund, Editor In Chief

Livia Lund is in her 3rd year on the Southerner staff as Editor in Chief. Beginning as a Staff Writer her sophomore year, Lund took over the position of Features Editor her junior year and is now excited to fulfill her current position as Editor in Chief. Lund has great leadership skills and is very excited as always to get to meet and work with new people and learn new things. As well as holding a leadership position on the newspaper, Lund is also the President of Green Tigers, facilitating the environmental student group at South. Lund is very interested in newspaper and has a very personal connection: Not only was her dad a journalist but her brothers were also Southerner staff members!

In her free time, Lund likes to bike and is currently learning to sew in hopes that one day she will be able to make her own clothes. At South, Lund enjoys playing frisbee and is part of the cross country ski team. Lund is very easy-going and can always be found helping someone around South, and we are excited to welcome her as our new Editor in Chief.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

We appreciate all of our readers who would like to interact with the articles we post. We ask that you keep comments relevant, respectful, constructive, and helpful to our staff. We also ask that you refrain from using profanity in your comment. We reserve the right to reject comments that don’t follow our community and comment guidelines. If you notice an error in an article, you may leave a comment with an email address attached. Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out our content!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    We need to stop supporting sexist music

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Why a 7-hour day is necessary at South

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Gun control movement needs to grapple with racism

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    How to accommodate for ADHD/ADD students in classrooms

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Training teachers to carry guns won’t prevent school shootings

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Restorative Justice: conversations and mediations that make schools safer

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Social media causes yet another source of stress for teens

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    A fine line to walk with mental health: should you keep your friends’ secrets if the consequences could be deadly?

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Potty talk: Men’s bathrooms are whack!

  • Be happier; take a gap year

    Opinion

    Year Long School Debate

The South High School student news site
Be happier; take a gap year