Should I Take a Gap Year?: The Pros and Cons of Time Off Before University
If you’re approaching the end of high school, there’s no doubt that you’ve been bombarded with questions about what comes next. For some, this is an easy answer – they know exactly what program they’re going into, how to pay for it, which university they’re doing this at, and what they’ll use it for afterwards.
For the rest of us, it’s not so easy. Most potential options seem like a shot in the dark that might be close to something we’re interested in, but not guaranteed to work out. Some programs seem appealing, but the universities that offer them are much pricier than you can afford. You may even have a good idea of what you want, but find yourself stressed about heading into another 4 years of school right after finishing high school.
If you find yourself feeling these things – or any kind of hesitation – perhaps you should consider taking a gap year!
A gap year is very common in this day and age. Many high school students graduate feeling rushed and (understandably) stressed about making decisions that will impact the next, independent section of their life. What many choose to do instead is not choose yet: they opt to take time off from school and figure out more about themselves and the world around them. For a lot of students, it is a financial decision; they just cannot afford to go to post-secondary, yet.
Here are some things to consider when making a decision about what’s right for you:
- Taking a gap year gives you much more free time to find work, which results in useful things earned! Specifically, money. If you come from a lower-income family, or hope to head towards a pricier university in the future, having time to just focus on working and saving up can significantly assist your finances in the future.
- Another positive aspect of work means you can learn in the fields of careers you’re interested in! Sometimes this is a much better way of getting a sense of what’s right for you. You can learn whether it’s an area you might find a place in, or if you should search for other fields to learn about at university. If it does turn out to be something you enjoy, it will give you contacts and network connections for after or during university, if you want to find a place in the industry again! And, if nothing else, it’s a valuable learning experience for independence. Speaking of which…
- Taking a gap year can teach you the independence you need to live on your own that you might not get in university. If you’re learning to live by yourself and trying to succeed in higher-level education simultaneously, it can be very stressful and might take away from both experiences. Taking a gap year means you get a chance to understand how to be more self-sufficient, and then allows you to take on post-secondary education once you’re on more solid footing.
- Some find they’re struck by a lack of motivation in school performance once they’ve had time off. A long break can result in some trouble getting back into the swing of things.
- For some people who may be unsure about what they want to do, it can be helpful to just dive headfirst into your options! Taking a year off can relieve stress, but it can also just feel like a big waste of time. Sometimes, if you’re indecisive, the best way to figure it out is to just enroll and learn about anything you might be interested in – time off from school could be good for figuring yourself out, but so is active participation in a wide variety of things.
Whatever your situation is, taking a gap year is entirely up to you. Do what feels best and try to make your post-secondary experience a positive and enjoyable one!