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To gap year or not to gap year? Here are the pros and cons

If you’re planning on taking a year-long break after school or not, here’s some food for thought before you make your choice. Picture: Pexels

If you’re planning on taking a year-long break after school or not, here’s some food for thought before you make your choice. Picture: Pexels

Published Mar 23, 2022


A gap year in most communities is frowned upon. Many parents believe it could make their children lazy or perhaps lead them into making wrong decisions. Some feel it’s a much-needed break for youngsters before they enter the big world and perhaps this could give them time to figure out who they are.

Either way, Google offers hundreds of tips and advice on whether a gap year is good or bad.

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According to Indeed, if you are considering taking a gap year, it’s important to understand how it can affect you and your future plans.

So, what is a gap year?

This is a year-long break after high school where someone can either travel or take up a part-time job. Others usually volunteer or take up internships, all while deciding what they plan to study later on.

Pros of taking a gap year

Improve college performance: Taking a year off before college can help you take your future education more easily. Having the time to reflect allows you to perform better and fully appreciate your education when you return.

Consider your interests: When you take a gap year or semesters, especially during your college studies, you have more time to consider what field of study you want to pursue. Some students don't find their passion until after they've paid for their education. When this happens, they may not enter the workforce in a job they're truly interested in or they may return to school for a new degree that better aligns with their interests, thus paying more for their education in the long run. Therefore, spending time figuring out your interests during your gap year after high school or during college can help you make a more informed, strategic decision about your future.

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Travel: Taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to travel. Whether you volunteer or work abroad, travelling lets you live in another country and experience different cultures. You also get to learn new languages, meet new people, try new foods and understand how different parts of the world operate. Having this kind of experience can even help you with future job interviews as many employers value candidates with multicultural experience or multilingual skills. Also, travelling may influence you to choose a more humanitarian or rewarding career.

Gain work experience: When you take a gap year, you have time to grow your professional skills and gain valuable experience through entry-level jobs or internships. Spending your gap year working on your career development can help you impress future hiring managers once you graduate from college. For example, while taking a part-time job or volunteering shows your work ethic and helps you develop valuable skills. Spending time working on your interests or hobbies shows hiring managers that you are growing personally, too.

Learn independence: Whether you’re travelling or have a part-time job, a gap year allows you to learn about money management and real-world responsibilities. While you likely spent your upbringing and high school years under supervision, taking part in any gap year activities can help you become more independent and a more well-rounded individual. Having both independence and responsibilities can benefit both your college life and your future career.

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Prevent burnout: Taking a gap year can help your mind relax before you pursue the rest of your studies. If you don’t take the time to recuperate after high school or perhaps during college, you may risk feeling burnt out, which can negatively impact your studies. Taking a gap year lets you return to your studies or start your career feeling refreshed and ready for the next opportunity.

Many people who choose to take a gap year use it to travel. Picture: Pexels

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Cons of taking a gap year

Lose momentum: When you take a gap year, it can affect your academic momentum. While taking a gap year after high school or during college helps prevent burnout, it also means you’ll likely have to re-familiarise yourself with taking tests, studying and writing papers. Readjusting to an academic schedule may feel tiring. Also, if you don’t use your skills during your gap year, you risk losing them.

Finish college late: Taking a gap year means you’ll likely finish college at least a year later than if you went to college right after high school, which can delay the pursuit of your career and salary.

Cost you more: Whether you decide to travel abroad or volunteer without a steady income, gap years tend to cost a lot of money. You have to consider potential flights, housing accommodation, programme fees and food. Therefore, you need to have enough money to properly finance a gap year. If you don’t, you could end up with intimidating costs and a lot of debt.

Require planning: While it’s exciting to plan your gap year, it can also feel overwhelming and take time that you don’t necessarily have. The planning stage can often take anywhere from nine to 12 months. Not only do you have to decide what you want to do during your gap year, but you also have to consider how you’ll pay for it.

So if you’re considering taking a gap year, make sure you do your research.



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