Should IUP Students Consider Taking a Gap Year?

The Pros and Cons of a Gap Year After High School

Makenna Horne, Staff Writer

A gap year can offer important life and future career lessons, but not all high school students should be encouraged to take this route. The year off can provide the opportunity for students to discover their passions and what career path they want to pursue, but for others, this time off may inadvertently hinder their careers. As iUniversity Prep seniors wrap up their last year of high school, they should consider weighing the pros and cons of having a gap year to help them have the most beneficial future.


There are many advantages in taking a gap year. It looks impressive on your curriculum vitae, adds to your college application and resume, and prepares you for future studies. Deciding your career path for the rest of your life is a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old. By taking a gap year, you have more time to figure out what you want to do with your life. During your time off, you can test things out. You can change your mind about your major through your experiments and explorations, rather than wasting your time. Studies have even shown that students who take a gap year have an increased college GPA and are more likely to be satisfied with their job. For students who take a gap year due to being burned out, the time off allows for them to rest and get back into the mindset of wanting to return to school, rather than it being a burden. Gap years prepare students for not only life in college but also the real world. It gives them the chance to be independent, as well as teaching them important life skills. If you decide to volunteer, intern, or get a full or part-time job, it gives you career experience. You learn through your interactions outside of the classroom, save money for tuition, while allowing your working horizons to expand. You will be challenged and forced to come out of your comfort zone through trial and error. 

Another pro with gap year is that with 13+ years of schooling, it is almost impossible to find the time to travel. With this time off, you have plenty of time to explore the world and gain real-world understanding. With more freedom, you can pursue other passions that you may not have been able to do before. While traveling, you see the world in a different way by learning to communicate with people from different backgrounds and may gain a better understanding and respect for cultures different from your own. You can reap many benefits from this. For example, if you go somewhere that speaks a different language, you may become fluent enough to test out of the college’s foreign language requirement.  Overall, it brings tremendous value to your life while exploring the world, your mind, and your heart.

Gap years have many cons as well. Unless you graduate high school early, taking a gap year will put you a year behind in your education. Not only that, readjusting to returning to school can be difficult and challenging as well. Gap years can be pricey and sometimes may even seem like a waste of valuable time, especially if you aren’t happy with the experience. Taking a gap year takes lots of careful planning. If not done correctly, you can be put in a predicament. You may lose your motivation in pursuing your education. The careful planning is everything. If the planning didn’t sound like enough work, gap years will often require more paperwork and more steps in the college application process. In fact, some colleges and employers have issues with taking the time off. Not all colleges will give you deferment, meaning that you can’t apply until the end of your gap year.

Even if you do all the planning you thought possible, it is crucial to know and accept that your gap year may not always go as planned. For instance, whether you work part-time, full-time, or as an intern, you may not get as much money as you thought you would, causing stress and financial concerns. In fact, you might not even get a job that you had wanted and planned to get! 

Lastly, students who take a gap year are sometimes less likely to earn a postsecondary credential (a diploma, certification, or degree that is received from tertiary education after high school) than students who went directly from high school to college. The reason for this is that once you take a break from school, there might be a lack of motivation to want to return to it. 

Taking a gap year is not for everyone. Even if a student does want to take a gap year, the pros may not outweigh the cons. By taking the time to consider the advantages and disadvantages, you can ensure that you are making a decision that is best for your future, whether that be taking the gap year or taking the more traditional route of heading straight to college. 






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