Exploring The Gap Year: Why It May Be Right For You

Although the gap year often comes with a negative connotation, taking advantage of time off from school could help you ultimately succeed in getting a degree. It’s important to make a well-thought-out decision on whether or not a gap year is right for you. A good place to start is to think about your high school experience. If you’re a person who is struggling to find the motivation to finish high school or is constantly having to remind yourself why you come to class, then a gap year may help you to rediscover your love for school. In this case, enrolling in college courses directly after high school may just continue to wear on your motivation and cause you to stop taking courses after one or two semesters.

It is also important to understand that taking time off could be risky in the fact that you could start losing interest in higher education or become distracted with other things in life like starting a family or going into the workforce. Putting something off for later runs the risk of never getting it done. Be honest with yourself in gauging your abilities to stay driven for a degree. Would you still be interested after a year off? If not, then a gap year may not be right for you.

Think about why you want to attend college or what career you want to pursue in life. A gap year could allow you more time to plan out a path to your degree. But it could also cause you to fall behind on the time it takes to earn a degree that is mandatory for your career choice. For example, if you want to be a doctor, engineer, teacher, or work in another field that requires a degree, then the longer you wait to start taking classes the further away you will be from your career. If you plan to become a writer or professional athlete, where your degree isn’t required but is beneficial, then you could be taking time to hone your skills before starting on your degree. By doing this, you might be able to skip an introduction course if you do well on a placement test for college. Look through the requirements of the field you would be studying in college and see whether the listings make any notes about a degree. Career Radar is a great site to view career requirements.

Consider the financial cost of college and textbooks. A gap year may help in saving up to pay for classes. If you feel that you are not financially ready to start college right after finishing high school then take time off. Feeling pressured to attend classes in the fall could be a mistake which could end with you taking an unexpected break for a year or two to gain more funds for school. The cost of higher education is constantly going up year by year and therefore you could end up paying a lot more by taking a gap year. Crunch the numbers for your specific school and compare them to the costs for surrounding schools in the area that offer the program you wish to study.

Figure out the right school for you as well as one or two backup choices. The decision to take a gap year or not may depend on your college acceptance letters. If you get into your dream school then it may make sense to take advantage of going directly to college. If you don’t get the acceptance letter you’d hoped for, then it may make sense to try again next year. A gap year may be perfect for brushing up on your application and making yourself a better candidate. College applications can be submitted using Commonapp.org. For more advice about college applications, check out Upchieve’s website.

When deciding whether to take a gap year or not, don’t be afraid to consult with your parents. You can also talk with peers and other students. Taking the time to think about what’s best for you should give you a well-thought-out decision and leave you with no regrets.


Niyja Bouie