Tag Archives | gap year


By Jack Amick on Flickr

After the four years of hard work, late nights, long essays and meeting deadlines that is college, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to taking some time off before jumping into another commitment (careers, grad school etc.). But is a gap year really the best option with regards to your long terms goals? A year is a long time, and if not planned correctly, a gap year after college can end up doing more harm than good. Here are some of the pros and cons of taking a gap year after you turn the tassel and throw your cap into the air:


1. Time to enhance alternate skills and pursue your passion

A gap year gives you a whole extra year after college to pursue your passion before you jump into a regular routine. This could be the perfect opportunity to further develop an interest you discovered in college. For example, say you realized you were deeply interested in theatre during your four years of college. You could use a gap year to enhance your acting skills, or maybe even research and write a play. Being able to enhance skills separate from those you learn in a classroom environment, that align with your passion, is one of the ways in which a gap year can be most rewarding.

2. Certifications to further build up your CV

A year is time long enough to get a few additional certifications under your belt. These will make you more marketable to potential employers, and could even help you earn a better entry-level salary when starting your career. Online certifications in Microsoft Office, or computer programming are very in demand these days. Other programs such as online medical assisting, emergency first response, CPR and more are very useful to have and could even determine your career.

3. Explorations/Volunteering abroad

One of the most common reasons to take a gap year is to explore the world. Taking a year to travel to different countries, experience various cultures and meet new people can be a very inspiring and amazing experience. It’s one thing to read about different cultures in books and talk about them in a classroom setting. It’s another to be fully immersed within that culture, and truly experience a different reality. In the long term, your experiences traveling or volunteering in countries and “making a difference” so to say, will give you plenty to talk about in interviews and make you stand out as an individual. If the wanderlust bug hit you in college, then this might be a great option should you decide to take a gap year.


1. Lack of a steady income

Chances are your gap year wouldn’t entail you working full time. This means you won’t have a steady income – or any source of income at all. Getting started with your career after graduation is more likely to yield an income, with the potential to increase as time goes on.

2. Potential to waste time

Having a year at your disposal is a long time, meaning there is lots of time that can be wasted. Gap years taken on a whim without prior planning can work out, but only in rare situations. To make the most of your gap year, it should be planned in advance, so that most of your time isn’t wasted in trying to plan something that will only materialize at the end of the year. Another factor is laziness. Knowing you have a whole year ahead could make you lazy at the start, and cause you to put things off. If you are the type of person that easily gets lazy, be aware that before you know it, the year will be over and you will find you will have accomplished much less than you wanted. Ultimately, this will just look like a giant waste of time on your CV, and be detrimental to your future goals.

3. Expenses

Gap years can be expensive. Depending on the type of gap year you choose, you may have to budget for hefty expenses. For instance, traveling involves paying for plane tickets, accommodation and food. Similarly, getting a certification or taking a course to improve your skills is rarely ever free. Budgeting is paramount so that your gap year doesn’t end up leaving you high and dry.

All in all, a gap year can be a wonderful experience. All it needs is some advance planning and being aware of the potential obstacles you may face along the way. If you take this into consideration, you are more likely to have a fulfilling and purposeful gap year after college.

This article was contributed by guest author Akshata Mehta.

Image by wiredcanvas, Flickr

Image by wiredcanvas, Flickr

After high school, students typically choose one of two paths: school or work. However, a third option exists that very few even consider: taking a gap year. It may not be the norm in North America, but gap years are quite common and highly recommended in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Just like attending university or being in the workplace, taking a gap year is not right for everybody. It takes a lot of research and several factors should be considered before deciding on the next step.


  • It’s a chance to regroup and rediscover. After being in school for several years, you can feel burnt out. Going to university while you aren’t in top shape mentally will only lead to poor performance. Use the time to get some well deserved rest and relaxation. Especially if you feel out of touch from yourself and the rest of the world, a gap year will only do you good as you reflect on your future goals and aspirations, as well as spend some much needed time with family and friends.
  • Most students take their year off to travel. Whether you’re backpacking through Europe or meditating in an ashram in India, you’ll revel in your newfound respect for different cultures, customs, beliefs and languages. You will end your gap year with several stories and memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Some students also take the opportunity to work. The money saved up from working is put towards future endeavours and purchases such as a home, a car or an education. Others work to gain an edge in an overly competitive career market. By taking internships or job opportunities related to their career path, they gain valuable experience and a chance to network with industry experts that will help their resumes shine.
  • It’s also a time to pursue other passions. You might want the time to write your Oscar-winning screenplay or create a start-up company in your garage. You might even discover that you want to pursue a different career path.
  • It’s a chance to get involved in something you really believe in. Release the humanitarian inside you and volunteer locally, nationally or internationally. Volunteer opportunities abroad can be done with Cuso International or the Peace Corps.


  • You can easily lose momentum. Skills you had, such as essay writing, and knowledge you learned through your courses may be forgotten, making the transition back to school difficult.
  • If you choose to travel, taking a gap year can take a huge financial toll. If you are unsure of the risk, ask yourself, “Is this a wise investment for myself or just a really expensive vacation?”
  • It may be important to start early in your career. If you choose to go into a field that requires years of experience in order to succeed, being a year behind may not be the best option.
  • You’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Wanting to attend countless parties is not a valid reason to take a gap year. Taking a gap year because you were rejected from your top school choice is not a good reason either – it will only make you feel worse. Above all, it can set you careening off of your career path. It’s best to look into the schools you were accepted to. You never know; you may end up loving your new school. If you don’t, you can always put in transfer applications.
  • To truly make your experience worthwhile, a lot of planning is involved. This means looking at travel plans, accommodations and work/volunteer opportunities. You should also be weighing your options; looking at the costs and benefits of taking a year off as opposed to going to school. For help with planning your overseas expedition, there are resources in the library or online such as Real Gap Experience, gapyear.com and i-to-i.
  • If you’ve decided on what you want to do, there may still be one more obstacle in your way: your parents. If unaware of the benefits of a gap year, they may disapprove and discourage you from taking a year off. They may also believe that taking a gap year will lead you to discontinuing your studies altogether. If this is the case, educate your parents on the benefits of taking a gap year and show them your plans to use it wisely and productively.