Pros and Cons of Taking a “Gap Year”

Taking time away from studying after high school has become a popular thing to do. It has been dubbed the term “Gap Year” because the intention is to go back to school after a short break. The off-year gives a student time to experience new things and deeply consider their next step in life. It can also bring some negative side effects with it as well. Before you graduate, consider the risk vs. the reward of taking a Gap Year.

Pros

  1. Finally, A Break: You’ve been studying since you were five years old, and you are tired. You want a mental break from the constant classroom setting. You are looking forward to clearing your mind of test, quizzes, and lectures. You’ll have more time during the day to start doing the things that you want to do.
  2. Research the Best School for You: As you take your “Gap Year”, you can devote more time into searching what you want to do with your life. You can shadow people in that profession and ask probing questions to figure out what the best position would be for you. You aren’t going into school blind. You have an occupation and a major in mind when you start looking for schools. Now that you know what you want to do, you can see which schools specialize in that area. Take your time to visit schools in state and out of state to see if moving is in the cards. Consider your budget, and apply. You’ll have more confidence during your schooling days because you know you’re not wasting your time on a career you don’t know if you want.
  3. Time to Build Up Revenue: While you are taking your “Gap Year,” don’t sit on your hands. Get some experience in the workforce and start saving up for your college tuition. Take a part-time or full-time job to keep you busy during the off year, and it allows you to have a jump start on paying off those student loans.
  4. Add More Life Experiences: When you take a year to think and rest, you have more time to do things that you normally wouldn’t. You have the freedom to do things like volunteer with different local organizations and committees, or go on a missions trip to serve others in need. You can travel to new destinations and take time to learn who you are as a person. By adding to your life experiences, you then know more about where you want to go. Real world experiences will teach you many different things than a classroom can.

Cons

  1. A Year Behind Your Cohort: By taking a year off, you’ll be starting a year behind everyone that you graduated high school with. You’ll be a little bit older when you start applying for jobs and internships. Employers may view your Gap Year in a negative light, which could hurt your chances of being hired.  
  2. You May Never Go Back: The statistics show that about 10% of students who choose to take a “Gap Year” never return to school. It’s not a staggeringly high statistic, but there is evidence that shows the break can become permanent.
  3. Lose Momentum: You turned your brain off of class, and now it’s hard to retrain your brain how to study. You’re in a routine with work, and it’s difficult to remember how to take notes, find time to study, and excel on tests. You’re rustier than you thought you would be, and the things that you learned before, now seem like distant memories. It’s harder to recall algorithms, definitions, and history facts because you’re a year further away from when you last studied.

All things come with a price. Either you jump straight into school and have less confidence in your major, or you wait and run the risk of being rusty when you hit the books again. Another thing to consider is that college isn’t for everyone. Trade schools are an excellent way to go if you enjoy craft work. There is a high demand for vocationally trained kids these days, and they are paid well. If you ever do want to go back to school, then it’s never too late. You can never be too old to go to college and learn something new.

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