Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
If you’re in high school, you might have seen people take a gap year far too often. Also, if you are a victim of the COVID-19 2020 pandemic, you might have known or seen a few people deferring their admissions to colleges and taking a year or a semester off from academics.
Taking a Gap Year
A gap year, also known sabbatical year, is a break students take before or after college/ university for travel, volunteering or real-life work experience. Students typically take gap years after leaving high school and joining the university.
Gap years are normally taken by high school students as the first-hand experience to indulge in other activities rather than academics such as take an internship, or learn a new skill through online classes. After 12 years of schooling, you might decide to take a rest to reconnect with the other factors and maybe develop other important skills and opinions. You could either grind for college right from your junior year with entrance exams, SAT/ACT and IELTS/TOEFL or take it slow with a single or many gap years.
A gap year can potentially be a life-changing experience and a chance to explore the world around you. It is believed that students who take a gap year after high school have relatively better performance at college. Some people also take a gap year from work and revisit their other options.
However, is taking a gap year the right thing for you? Or is it a possible ramification? Here are some pros and cons that you might want to consider before taking a gap year. But before that, here we have a quick analogy on how this global trend started.
How It All Started?
Gap year actually started as the idea of exchanging cultural beliefs hoping to prevent future wars back in the 1960s. Young people would take a gap year to free themselves from everyday stress. However, seeing a lot of people take gap years, this started to foster.
The gap year industry developed rapidly with the success of organizations like Topdeck and Flight Centre. Youths were sent to other countries for the nation’s development and also to improve their volunteering skills.
In 1969, Dynamy, the first gap year organization was formed with the objective to teach young people self-confidence. The idea of a gap year was then promoted by Cornelius H. Bull in the 1980s. He felt that students needed to bridge their high school and college by learning some in-hand skills.
Today, thousands of students take gap year which is linearly increasing since the last 5 years. But should you take one too?
Pros of Taking a Gap Year
Gap years are amazing and can prove to be very beneficial if planned right. Some of the benefits of taking a gap year are as follows:
1. Following Your Passion
During your normal years, you have classes, meetings, tests, presentations, there could be so many things keeping you occupied that you really don’t have the time to think about what you really want to do.
Taking a break from studies or work gives you time to reflect on what you love to do. Interests and hobbies that are often overlooked due to academic or work pressure might be something that you want to do in your life. This break might let you sink in your interests or help you develop a new one
2. Preparing for College
Studies show that students who took a gap year have grown in maturity and perform better in college significantly. Not only that, but you’ll also have plenty of time to decide what you want to study in college.
You could wait a semester or a year and maybe improve your scores and skills hence, having a better shot at your dream universities and colleges. Abilities, like living and working independently, will for sure prove to be a valuable asset while in college.
3. Better CV
Taking a gap year to do volunteering or internships could provide you with new valuable skills and the potential to stand out from other people. For example, if you’re planning to major in fashion designing, spending a year learning more about various fashion trends and designs will certainly give you a big boost.
Or if you decide to travel, there is so much to know about different cultures and places. You might even learn a new language when you’re at it. Whatever you decide to do or learn next, anything innovative could look good on your resume when you pursue your dream college or your dream job.
4. Earn For Your Education
University life is really expensive and student loans sometimes can be hard to deal with. Lucky for you, we have an article about student loans right here. So, if you decide to take a gap year and save up for your studies, you could graduate with minimum or no debt.
Pursuing education with financial pressure could also have a direct effect on your academics. So it can be a good investment if you think you cannot afford college fees right away.
5. New Connections
You will definitely meet new people no matter what you do in your gap year which will help you expand your network. Whether you sign up for volunteering, take a job or travel to a new place, you will make new friends!
Every new person you help, you discover new things you previously did not know. Interacting with people and sharing ideas with people will definitely broaden your knowledge.
Cons of Taking a Gap Year
While gap years can be amazing, they come with some scary drawbacks. Below are some of the cons of taking a gap year that you must consider.
1. Risk of Losing Momentum
Taking a gap year can be refreshing but most students tend to find it difficult to get back to an academic schedule after such a long break. The worst-case scenario includes people dropping out of colleges because they were not able to maintain the momentum after taking a gap year. So, consider if taking a long break will affect your consistency as it really depends on personal perception.
2. A Year Behind
Many people avoid gap years as they fear they’ll be academically behind their friends. This can be a really big concern because when you’ll be in your junior or senior year in college, most of your high school peers would have jobs. This feeling of being left behind could also cause serious psychological effects.
3. Gap Years are Expensive
Gap years might not be everyone’s piece of cake right from the start. When you decide what you want to do with this time in hand, you could come up with some really extravagant ideas. Even if they may prove to be worthwhile and overwhelming experiences, the fact that you are going to add a quite few expenditures on your living is undeniable.
Well, if you decide to travel around the world during your gap year then, depending on your location and duration of stay, you might have to pay a good amount of money. It won’t be a concern if you’re financially prepared for it but for most of the people, it might not be that easy way to go.
4. Risk of Wasting Time
Well, if you have everything sorted out what you’re going to do during your gap year and it seems beneficial then it won’t be a problem. But if you don’t and just want to take a break from academic life, you’re risking your valuable time without doing anything productive or significant.
Once you start getting a lot of free time having escaped all the pressure from schooling work, gap years can be really tempting. You could lose yourself in the continuous loop of having free time in hand hence, falling behind and wasting your precious time.
5. People May Not Understand Your Decision
Not everyone you know might support taking a gap year. Your peers, teacher, and parents close to you might also fall into that category. Your parents might think you’ll just be too distracted and might give up on studies. This is especially true given that newer generations are more likely to take a gap year.
Friends might also feel that they will lose contact with you or you’ll fall behind. You might have the benefit of the doubt but it’s really your opinion on what you can or cannot do. The emotional and mental pressure this generates can be really problematic.
Whether one should take a gap year or not really is a debatable topic as both sides have equally strong points. It really goes to the personal decision and the situation he/she is in.
If you have productive plans for your gap year, can afford it and won’t feel left out then it’s great, go ahead. But if you have a tight budget or don’t have anything planned out, its best to stick with not taking a gap year.