A gap year is a period of time, typically one year, that students take off between high school and college. It can be a valuable opportunity to gain new experiences, learn new skills, and develop a better understanding of oneself. It’s gained popularity in recent years, especially after Covid, and comes with its own set of benefits and costs. Here are just a few pros and cons of taking a gap year:
Pros of taking a gap year
- Gaining work experience. A gap year is a great time to gain work experience in a field that you are interested in. This can help you to determine if it is a good fit for you and to develop the skills and knowledge that you will need to be successful.
- Volunteering. Volunteering is another great way to gain working experience and make a difference in the world, giving yourself a positive sense of belonging. It can also help you to develop new skills and meet new people, giving you a jump on networking which will be crucial after college.
- Traveling. Traveling is a great way to learn about different cultures and perspectives. It can also help you to develop your independence and problem-solving skills.
- Learning a new language. With traveling might come the chance or necessity of learning a new language. This is a valuable skill that can open up many new opportunities for you! It can also help you to better understand other cultures.
- Developing new skills/finding a hobby. A gap year is a great time to develop new skills, such as cooking, coding, or playing a musical instrument. This can help you to make the most of your college experience and to be more competitive in the job market. Having a hobby or special skill is also great for when you need to de-stress from college life.
- Taking time for yourself. After 12 years of school, it is understandable that you may need some time to relax and recharge before starting college. A gap year can give you the opportunity to travel, volunteer, or pursue other interests that you have not had time for in the past.
Cons of taking a gap year
- Delaying your education. Taking a gap year will delay your education by one year. This may not be a problem for everyone, but it is something to consider.
- Losing academic momentum. After a year away from school, it may be difficult to get back into the swing of things. This could lead to lower grades and more stress.
- Financial cost. Taking a gap year can be expensive. You will need to factor in the cost of travel, accommodation, food, and activities. You may also need to take out loans to cover your expenses.
- Social pressure. Some people may pressure you not to take a gap year. They may worry that you will lose focus or that it will be difficult to get back on track.
Is it worth it?
Whether or not to take a gap year is a very personal decision and there are both pros and cons to consider. If you are thinking about taking a gap year, be sure to talk to your caregivers, teachers, and other trusted adults who are part of your support system. They can help you to weigh the benefits and risks and help you make the best decision for you.
Here are some additional things to consider when making your decision:
- What are your goals for your gap year? Do you have a specific plan for what you want to do? Or are you more open-ended?
- How much money do you have saved up? Taking a gap year can be expensive, so it is important to make sure that you have enough money to cover your expenses.
- What is your support system like? Do you have friends and family who will support your decision to take a gap year, or will you be on your own?
- Check out gap year resources like Gap Year Association, an organization aimed at promoting the mission of gap years for students.
If you decide to take a gap year, make sure to plan ahead and make the most of your time. Set goals for yourself and create a budget. Do your research and be flexible. With careful planning, your gap year can be a valuable and rewarding experience and set you up for success in college with a clear mind (and endless essay material)!
Did you take a gap year? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!