Should students take a 'gap' year? - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Should students take a 'gap' year?

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Just out of high school and wondering which direction to go?

Some students opt to take a year off before going to college and experiencing life.

It's called a gap year and they say it helped them learn what they wanted to do with their life and made them truly appreciate that college education.

Kim Cunningham chose to visit the Eiffel Tower and tour Europe after graduating from Hamilton High School in 2006.

"So having a year where I didn't have to think so hard about school and just enjoy life brought me back feeling more ready to go and ready to study and learn again," she said.

She was already accepted to Arizona State University, but changed her major before beginning her college career.  She switched from musical theater to business and tourism. Now she has a job at Connect Worldwide in Scottsdale, working with clients across the world.

"That experience opened my mind to wanting to be able to travel and work with international companies, which if I had just gone to college, I don't know if that's an area I would have explored," she said.

Landon Holzwarth is now an academic advisor and real estate pro in Chandler, but before college, he traveled the world, performing lead vocals in a musical.

"It was getting to know myself where ultimately I eventually knew what I wanted to get out of a degree and a college education and I really appreciated it," he said.

ASU admissions counselors recommend having a plan of action to return to school within a year and they say you should do something in that time that benefits your education.

"I think that students who have a already decided to take a gap year then I would council them to plan a map a specific plan and if you don't have a plan for return -- a very specific plan, then you run the risk of getting distracted," said David Burge, ASU's Executive Director of Admission Services.

"Learn about another culture, experience something that you might not get to do if you wait and you'll come back ready to jump back in after having a year to refresh," said Cunningham.

ASU recommends getting accepted to a school prior to taking a year off so that there's a plan in place for a student's return and they'll have a counselor to help with that transition.

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