As a high school senior, it’s easy for me to say I’m sick of school. A year-long break from academic work would be just fine. There are many reasons it would be fabulous to take a gap year — but there is also a stigma; growing up, in my household, there was always a negative connotation with not prioritizing academics, which is not uncommon.

Now that I’m at the point in my life where I can decide for myself, however, the thought of putting my studies on hold has become extremely tempting.

Statistics backing up the benefits of a gap year are overwhelming and almost surprising.

The former dean of admissions at Middlebury College in Vermont, Bob Clagett, gathered data showing that those who took a gap year outperformed those who didn’t. After returning to college, they had outstanding GPAs.

Another study showed that students who took gap years have many significant experiences during them, including new relationships, volunteering, interning, and meditating. Respondents researched by Nina Hoe at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government in Philadelphia agreed that the experience helped them develop as a person, increased their maturity and self-confidence, helped them learn to interact with those from different backgrounds and how to communicate, helped them acquire skills to be successful in their careers, and helped them find purpose in their life.

Although we risk losing our academic momentum by taking a gap year, data show we can regain that and do better when we return than we thought we could. Yes, it can be expensive, and we will be a year behind, but taking a gap year is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Would you rather look back on your younger years regretting passing up such a chance or failing once from taking a risk?

We have real proof to show our parents when they tell us that gap years are ridiculous and a waste of time. Students, let’s all take our gap years!

Allison Miska of Cohasset is a senior at Grand Rapids High School.