What is a ‘gap year’?
Traditionally speaking, a ‘gap year’ usually refers to a year’s break taken by students before they start university. More often than not, this year is spent abroad on a structured programme or to spend time developing oneself and the skills before taking the next step in terms of education or career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that a gap year need not necessarily be 12 months but could last longer or be shorter, tuned to the needs of a student. Irrespective of the duration of the gap year, the foundational idea remains that the break offers students time for self-reflection, allows them to gain life experience, and be surer of what they want to do in college.
According to The Gap Year Association, a nonprofit membership community, recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization for gap year education, a gap year can help you find your purpose by figuring out how to make the following four factors combine:
- That which you love
- That which the world needs
- That which you are good at
- That which you can be paid for
A student could spend a gap year being engaged in several activities like Working, Volunteering, Traveling, or Gaining life experiences.
Why does taking a gap year matter?
Over the last few years, gap years have become increasingly popular among college students. As many as 40% of students are now embracing the idea of a gap year. From Joe O’Shea’s book, Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs: “Studies that have looked at the academic performance of gap year students while in college state that in Australia and the United Kingdom, economic researchers found that taking a Gap Year had a significant positive impact on student’s academic performance in college. (Birch and Miller 2007; Crawford and Cribb 2012).”
Taking a Gap Year: Pros and Cons
Taking advantage of the freedom to travel, explore areas around your own home, or get to know people outside of your comfort zone – these add to the kind of experiences that are valuable in ways different from traditional classroom experiences and are worth experiencing.
|You could lose momentum
Taking a gap year for a year after graduation could sound like a strong plan as long as doesn’t turn into a three-year plan and the momentum to return to work reduces with time. It is always wise to keep a return date in mind and a plan of what needs to be done.
|Earn Extra Money
You can always earn and save some extra money towards your higher education costs or future plans.
|It can be very expensive
On the other hand, the costs could begin to add up. Keep aside some savings before you leave and then getting work while on your gap year could be crucial to making the most of your time.
|Break to Recharge
This could serve as an opportunity to take a break from studying and return refreshed. You could volunteer, get valuable work experience, and travel the world.
|It can be hard to justify
If you don’t plan or actively take part in anything during your gap year, it’s much harder to justify your trip to employers. To ensure this doesn’t happen, it is always best to create a plan detailing what you want to achieve and then document what you did while on your gap year.
|Gain New Life Skills
You can use your gap year to develop any number of key life skills – anything from learning a language while living in another country, or honing communication and leadership skills while working on a service project.
|Some people find a year out becomes a distraction from their longer-term plans.
It may be harder to transition back to school, after spending a gap year being idle or having withdrawn from academic engagement.
After taking a year off, it could be more difficult to get back into the swing of things – your study habits and learning abilities may slide as you take that year off.
|Gap years improve your job prospects
A productive gap year could be more valuable on your CV. Learning a skill, gaining work experience in your field, studying a language, or spending months learning about a specific topic or country can all help your resume stand out.
A year spent volunteering or interning can also build skills that will impress potential employers.
|You Might Waste Too Much Time
An unstructured year out may not add much value to your future – careful thought and planning is essential.
Despite the many advantages of taking a gap year, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. That being said, this should not be a decision that you leap onto impulsively in order to skip taking tests or because you are too indecisive about your future at the moment. It’s worth considering how a gap year could affect your finances before you decide whether to take one. One should consider taking a gap year if there are some specific life experiences (especially those that could be difficult to fit into a jampacked college schedule) one might want to experience prior to starting a career. On the other hand, one should not take a gap year if it is not going to be planned well.
Whether you choose to take a gap year or not, the right college is important. Demont is here to help you pursue your degree field of choice. Let us know how we can help you plan your future college degree path by reaching out to our admissions team today.
Brotman, E., 2020. Gap Years For College Students Can Increase Job Prospects, Study Shows.
Busteed, B., 2020. It’s Time To Reinvent The Gap Year.
Farrington, R., 2019. Here’s Every Reason You Should Take A Gap Year Before College.
Godfrey-Evans, H., 2022. Should I take a gap year?.
Mendelman, M., 2022. The unbelievable career advantages of taking a gap year.
National Careers Service, 2022. Gap year advice.
Tretina, K. & McGurran, B., 2021. What Is A Gap Year And Should You Take One?.