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The Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

A gap year is when a student takes a break from their formal education after graduating high school.  A gap year does not necessarily have to be an actual calendar year.  It can be anywhere from a semester to a couple of years.  Some students take this opportunity to travel, work, volunteer, or pursue hobbies.  A gap year is not right for everyone.  With careful planning, for some students it can be an invaluable experience.  Below are some pros and cons for students who may be considering a gap year to think about:

What are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year?

  1. A student needs to be mentally ready for the challenges of college. If the recent graduate is feeling academically burnt out they may not be able to do their best going to school right away.  A gap year would allow them to renew their energy, and start fresh in college the following semester or year.

  2. A break from education is a chance to experience life apart from going to school. After being in school full-time for twelve years it may be an ideal time to try something different.

  3. A gap year may be a good way for a student to figure out what they are passionate about. During this time students can see what they really want to study before spending all the required time, money, and energy on post-secondary education.  Taking the time before beginning college, could save time in the end if the break is used wisely.

  4. Students may use the time off school to work full-time and save money for college, which could reduce some stress. Having some money saved will help defray costs of school, and may decrease the amount of money needed in loans.

  5. Depending on how the time is used, a gap year could help a student get into their preferred schools. Students have built impressive applications during gap years by going abroad, working for AmeriCorps or another charity, creating amazing artwork, or even starting their own business.

  6. The short time between high school and college may be the only time in their lives a student will have an opportunity like taking a gap year. After having the responsibilities of a career, family and/or mortgage it is unlikely that a student would ever get the chance again to take time off and pursue a passion.  It will give the student the chance to meet new people, learn great lessons, and mature in a way that is different from going right into their post-secondary education.

There are some cons to taking a gap year as well that are important to consider before making a decision.

What are the Cons of Taking a Gap Year?