Should I take a gap year? If this question has been on your mind lately, you’re definitely not alone. Many high school seniors have been wondering the same thing, particularly now due to the coronavirus outbreak. In fact, roughly one in six high school students say that they will likely change their fall college plans due to COVID-19, according to higher education market research firm Art & Science Group.
Enthusiasm over gap years has been on the rise for years, and this year could be the biggest gap year ever for students. But is taking a gap year right for you? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.
Reasons to Take a Gap Year
A gap year can be a seriously amazing experience that provides you with greater clarity, a sense of purpose and, quite frankly, the ability to live your best life. But is taking a school sabbatical actually a smart move? Here’s why the answer could be “yes.”
- You’ll have more time for career exploration. It’s kind of insane how society expects every 17-year-old to know what they want to do with the rest of their life. Like, props to those high school students who have their careers mapped out before they graduate, but that’s just not realistic for everyone! If you don’t know what to do after high school, taking a gap year could be a great way to explore career options and figure out what your future holds.
- It can help boost your college GPA. Are your parents not on board with the idea of you taking a gap year? Kindly point them to data compiled by the American Gap Year Association which shows that not only do the vast majority of students (90 percent) return to school after taking a gap year, they also do better in school compared to non-gap year students.
- You can wait for a “normal” college experience. University clubs and organizations, Greek life, parties, college fairs, and other networking opportunities are a big part of the college experience. But with more colleges and universities moving online due to coronavirus concerns, it might make sense to delay your enrollment for a semester or two.
- It can help you build your resume. Another major benefit to taking a gap year? You’ll have plenty of time to build your resume through internships, jobs, and volunteer opportunities, which could give you a major edge on your college application. Want to gain real-world experience before college? Check out our blog on the best volunteer opportunities for teens that can help you make the most of your gap year experience.
Reasons to NOT Take a Gap Year
Taking a gap year isn’t the right choice for everyone. Let’s take a look at why applying for college immediately after high school could be a better way to go.
Psst…if you ultimately decide to attend college, be sure to read our blog – How to Apply for College – to guide you through the process.
- It can be a rough transition back to school. Remember going back to school in the fall after having an ah-mazing summer break? Yeah, taking a gap year is kinda like that, except times 10. After taking an entire year off from academics, getting back into the routine (read: waking up for an 8:00 a.m. class) can be downright brutal.
- You may have fewer financial aid opportunities. If you take a gap year, you may not qualify for certain college scholarships, grants, and bursaries. Many entrance awards are awarded to students who plan to attend college immediately after high school, so taking a gap year could disqualify you from certain funding opportunities. On the other hand, there are also college scholarships specifically for gap year students.
Trying to lock down some funding for school? Learn more about the differences between a grant vs. scholarship on the Tallo blog.
- Remote gapping probably isn’t as cool as it sounds. Not into the idea of a remote college experience? Honestly, we totally get it. But before you hop aboard the Gap Year Student Express, consider that your gap year will also likely be remote. So rather than traveling abroad and seeing the world like you’ve always dreamed about doing, you could just end up stuck at home with your parents.
To Gap or Not to Gap?
Should you take a year off from school? Or should you scrap the gap and go to college? Since we don’t know your particular situation, we can’t say one way or the other. What we can say is that taking a gap year can be amazingly beneficial if you take a break for the right reasons. Whether you ultimately decide to attend college after graduation or take a gap year, the most important thing is to have a plan!
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