By Kayla Carr

Not all recent college graduates enter their professions shortly after commencement. Instead, many opt to take a gap year to further their informal education. The American Gap Association reports that the exact number of students who choose to take a gap year is unknown, but increasing.

Burnout from school and a desire to discover more about themselves are the top reasons students choose to take a gap year according to a survey of 280 “gappers” by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson, authors of “Gap Year, American Style”.

The time provides an opportunity for a person to have fulfilling experiences outside of school and work. The Center for Interim Programs is an independent organization that provides consultation to people interested in taking a gap year. The CIP reports that “[t]he growth, perspective, and life experience gained through a well-planned gap year is a tremendous complement to one’s formal education and work.”

Emily Barnard, a University of Nevada, Reno graduating senior plans to obtain these benefits while taking up to a year off before attending law school. She plans to use the time to study for the Law School Admissions Test.

Additionally, Barnard foresees having extra time to pursue her interests. She will enroll in Spanish classes in order to retain the knowledge she learned while minoring in the language. Barnard also intends on taking dance classes.

“I want to start dancing again because I used to dance and during the semester, I didn’t really have time,” Barnard said.

During Barnard’s gap year, the soon-to-be graduate also hopes she will discover more about her intended career path, since she is undecided about what area of law she wants to enter.

“My dream job is I don’t know yet … I‘ve been interested in being a prosecutor. I’ve also been interested in environmental law and family law,” Barnard said.

The CIP reports that pursuing other opportunities in place of further schooling or a career can deepen one’s understanding of the world.

Gary House is graduating in less than two weeks with a degree in community health science and a minor in nutrition. Right now, he is focused on playing volleyball overseas in Germany, Dubai or Spain.

“The ultimate goal is to make the 2020 Olympics,” House said.

Through his lofty goals, the senior hopes to cure the exhaustion that can result from 16 or more years of school. One day, he hopes to be a physician’s assistant or physical therapist. House is also interested in becoming a pararescue specialist in the military. However, he feels the opportunity to play volleyball abroad is too tempting to pass up.

“At this point in time, I feel like I can’t focus enough to go to school again for X amount of years,” House said. “So I feel like I should just go and travel and enjoy my youth.”

Kayla Carr can be reached and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.