After you are done with high school, a wave of excitement and uncertainty is bound to follow. You have spent years preparing for a career and researching. This is the time to make decisions and handle dilemmas calmly with as much research as possible. There is a vast array of opportunities available and streams to choose from. However, there is one question that might arise too – what is a gap year, and should you consider taking it? In this blog post, we help you gain some insight. We provide you with a list of merits and demerits when it comes to taking a gap year after high school. 

What is a gap year?

A gap year entails a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and before career or postsecondary education. It is meant to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness. For high school students or graduates considering a gap year, the options are plentiful and can be structured programs or self-guided. A wide range of options can be explored during a gap year. These are experiences with a focus on ecology, animal welfare and conservation, language studies, coding, cultural immersion, and a variety of other topics. A gap year looks different for everyone. It’s a full year or a semester of learning experiences that might include travel, volunteering, paid work, an internship, or a combination of these things. It’s typically taken after high school graduation before starting college. 

image showing a hand holding a rock that says gap year!!!

Why should you take a gap year? 

Keep in mind that a gap year isn’t taking a year off. It’s a year on. It’s a year of doing, learning, thinking, planning, and taking advantage of the moment. Don’t think of a gap year as an alternative to starting college. Think of it instead as an experience that can prepare you for college. You build a sense of self-awareness and independence—valuable skills for progressing in any major. Beyond college, a gap year can help you stand out in your résumé. Apart from that, more and more students are taking five years or longer to finish college, perhaps because they are initially enrolling in programs that aren’t a perfect fit. A gap year can help give you the time and experience to choose the college and program that’s best suited for you, which makes it time well spent!

image of a high school student traveling the world during her gap year

Overall, you get enough time to prepare for a solid career ahead by taking a gap year. This experience can also give you an edge over peers in your field when looking for internships and jobs. If you’re considering a career with a long and expensive educational path, check if it’s a good fit. Furthermore, when you join college after a year of learning new skills and gaining experience, you will be able to put them to use in your day-to-day college life. It will be like having a headstart on the college experience. 

Why should you avoid taking a gap year? 

  • You might not make it back to school. This is one of the biggest reasons why people say students shouldn’t take a gap year. It can be hard to jump back into academia after you’ve had a taste of living on your own. You can adapt to the lifestyle you initiate, and motivating yourself to return can become challenging. Some people find they like the slower-paced lifestyle they adopt during their gap year. Whereas some people enjoy making a living and don’t want to give that up to go back to school. To avoid this con, make a resolute plan for your gap year and stick to it.
  • Another common disadvantage many students who opt for a gap year face is the social stigma that comes with it. Not everyone understands that taking a gap year can be beneficial and sometimes it’s difficult to convince your guardians who would much rather choose the conventional path. 
Image of a girl going to college and avoiding a gap year
  • Another thing that may stand in your way is finance. While you can make money during a gap year, this year could also be very financially stressful depending on what you plan to do with your time. If you anticipate money being a stressor, plan far in advance for how you will overcome this con. Moreover, you don’t want to miss opportunities with friends and your social circle. While you take your gap year, most of your friends will probably be heading off to college, so you’ll no longer be on the same academic calendar. You could miss out on the bonding of starting college together, traveling during spring break, and eventually graduating together. Keep in mind though, that you’ll likely make many new friends during your gap year, and the opportunities awaiting you during a gap year are endless.

Final Thoughts 

Like all things in life, taking a gap year is a risk you might take which could turn out to be the best decision you make or it could cause a few backlogs in your life. Based on the points mentioned above, we hope you can make an informed decision. If you choose not to take a gap year and indulge yourself in the university experience, Young Scholarz can guide you. We have Career Counselling and University application support for writing SoPs and selecting your courses in the first year. If you decide to take a gap year, there are many things you will have to figure out. For example, what can you explore during this time, how to manage finances, what internships you can take up and so much more. Look out for another informative blog from us next week on how to navigate a gap year.