Should You Take a Gap Year? Pros and Cons

Is taking a gap year beneficial at all? Doing so is increasingly becoming popular. Many colleges are even supporting their students to take this path. It may sound a great deal since some advocates for a gap year after high school proposes that this year of service before commencing college should be obligatory for all students.

Taking a gap year has its advantages; however, many students are not fully informed about the idea of a gap year: Some take it as the perfect opportunity to travel indecisively and waste time – which is misleading.

What Is a Gap Year?

A gap year represents the year between your high school graduation and college that you take off your studies. You don’t commence your college studies the fall you’re supposed to, and you have to wait to start the next fall.

Gap years are supposed to give students a pause from their studies and allow them to discover themselves and the kind of career and education they are passionate about and want to pursue.

During a gap year, you can explore many activities alone or as a member of a gap year program. Some gap year activities include working a job, finishing your internship, volunteering, or traveling.

Why Do People Take Gap Years?

A recent survey revealed two most popular reasons students take a gap year: First, they needed to recover from academic weariness, and second, they wanted to know more about themselves.

Much research on gap years has revealed the benefits of a gap year. For example, through a gap year, students get the time to recharge and recollect and learn more about themselves on their terms. These benefits have encouraged institutions, including Harvard University, New York University, and MIT, to inspire students to take it.

Therefore it’s not surprising to see many colleges allowing accepted applicants to postpone their admissions and take their gap year.

Some colleges go further with their support of gap years by providing university-sponsored gap year courses and programs. Princeton University is an example of a college offering its designated undergraduates the choice to sign up for a nine-month tuition-free work program.

Taking a Gap Year: Pros and Cons

A gap year has many benefits and advantages for students; unfortunately, this option doesn’t suit every scholar. Consider the following pros and cons of a gap year before making an informed decision to take one:

 Pro: You’ll Enter College Feeling Refreshed and Refocused

A gap year allows students to gain clarity, improving their academic performance. Nevertheless, research says students who opt for a gap year are more likely to graduate in four or fewer years than the usual national average of six years.

This time allows you to reason and identifies potential paths to help you make informed choices about deciding your major.

 Con: You Might Waste Too Much Time

An unstructured gap year can be damaging since students waste their time and may lose academic energy. Gap-year programs can curb that by providing structure and incentives, but if you decide to explore part or the whole of this time independently, ensure you set up clear goals that you can achieve.

You can inform the people you trust of your plans so that they can hold you responsible.

Some unfortunate situations during a gap year include haltering your academics to entertain video games, binge movies, and loitering around the house.

 Pro: You’ll Build Important Skills

During your gap year, you can indulge in many activities that help you develop various life skills. For example, by visiting other countries, you can learn a new language; by taking a service project, you can sharpen your communication and leadership skills; or by getting an internship or job, you can build up immediate experience.

 Con: Gap Years Can Get Pricey

Colleges are well-known for being overtly expensive, and students who fear wasting their money by poorly using their time in college may find gap years helpful. Gap years may help them work out a clear direction for going through college.

However, gap year programs, including going abroad, can be overwhelmingly expensive. Before you plan on going on a trip or joining a program during a gap year, understand their probable costs and hidden charges.

 Pro: You Can Broaden Your Horizons

The best way to use a gap year wisely includes traveling and staying broad. That is a life-changing experience as you absorb new cultures and learn new languages. You also experience the world from a different angle which can help you unearth hobbies and interests.

 Con: You May Feel Isolated or Like You’re Falling Behind

Fear of missing out (FOMO) may increase for people who opt for a gap year when they realize they can’t go through experiences similar to their peers in college. They can also feel like they are falling behind when they realize they will be experiencing these things a year after their peers.

It’s human to have those feelings, and if you’re in the same boat, it helps to understand that going to college a year late does not harm your career trajectory. Eventually, you’ll resume your studies and experience college nevertheless.

 Pro: It Can Attract Employers

A unique resume is what pleases potential employers. During your productive gap, you’ll engage in resume-building projects. These resume-building activities which make your resume stand out include gaining new skills, working apprenticeships in your field, learning languages, or dedicating time to research and learn about a country or a specific topic.

Potential employers are also appealed by volunteering or interning activities.

Con: It May Be Harder to Transition Back to School

Transitioning back to studies may become difficult when you spend your gap year aimlessly or disengage from academics.

You can prevent that by keeping yourself busy with materials that bring you to life. During this time, aim at gaining new skills, discovering yourself, and finding your interest in the academic field or any matter that delights you.

Should You Take a Gap Year?

Taking a gap year might be popular, but it doesn’t work for everyone. You have to consider several factors to determine if it suits your situation.

First, gap year programs and traveling abroad can be overwhelmingly expensive. Be smart in calculating all the costs and comparing them with your finances. Therefore before you take a gap year, weigh in on how it can hurt your finances.

Secondly, consider the activities you intend to explore during this one year-off academics. Starting your gap year with a clear direction of what you will do sets you up for success.

Take note of the milestones or goals you seek to achieve before commencing college, including the goals you can only achieve now since you won’t have the time to work on while in college.

It is okay to spend part of your gap year, especially at the beginning taking a break from school and relaxing. However, don’t lose track of focus because it is easy to find yourself spending the whole year aimlessly and unfocused.

The bottom line is that it’s entirely your task to determine if taking a gap year will favor you and your goals.

Choose your Reaction!