BY: Sahar Rana, University Throughout high school, my career goals changed constantly. I’d contemplated everything from firefighting to teaching. I did finally find my passion – I applied to college for a degree program in photography, and I got accepted. Though I was excited, I was confused as to whether this was still what I wanted to do. I thought back to a few months ago when I wrote a pros and cons list of taking a gap year. A gap year is a year taken off from studies after graduating from high school. My mind was buzzing with questions like, “Will my parents be okay with it?”, “How behind will I be?”, “What if I waste an entire year doing nothing?”, “What if I end up applying for the same program again?” However, the pros outweighed the cons, so I decided to take the unconventional route and take a gap year. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Here’s why a gap year is advantageous: It’s unreasonable to expect everyone to choose their career at age 18. A career is a big deal! Not everyone knows what to do with their life at such a young age. Even adults regret some choices they prematurely made. We’re teenagers, and a handful of us need time to figure ourselves out. Taking a gap year gives us the time to think about what we really want to do. A gap year can be taken again, but having the year to yourself after high school is different than having one between/after graduating from university. After getting a degree, it becomes all about finding a job, which can get pretty stressful. When you type “gap year” in Google, you get countless opportunities and deals for gap year travelling. This is a great time to have an adventure, learn new things, connect with others, and have diverse experiences. Travel opens your mind to different possibilities and can provide a sense of what you may want to do as a profession. A gap year is a great time to volunteer, build your resume, and earn money for different university or college expenses. You have an entire year to build financial stability. Post-secondaries are beginning to recognize the benefits of a gap year. They gladly accept students who have taken a year off, because studies show these students tend to be committed and happy with their careers. My gap year affected me in ways that I did not expect. I will now be attending the same program I applied to originally. But if I went to college earlier, I wouldn’t have found the path to Islamic knowledge through a program I took to study the Quran in my gap year, something that gave me a paradigm shift and changed my life for the better. I am now ready to go to college with a fresh perspective, as someone who is a lot more financially stable, and as someone who has matured mentally and emotionally. We plan and Allah plans, but Allah’s plan is ultimately greater. Some people look down upon those who take a gap year, thinking it’s simply laziness. For those who think this is the right choice, do it. Realize that it’s your job and your life and there’s no time to worry about what others think. Don’t be ashamed if you’re a sophomore at age 20. Break against conformity and learn to do what’s best for you, not what will satisfy other people.