I remember graduating in May 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. I had an offer for a master’s program, and I was wondering whether to accept it or not. The depths of my heart knew that the right decision right now was to stop and reflect a little bit. I had been at school for more than 16 years and I have never stopped. From one school to another, I studied and studied without actually stopping. My vacations were also used for studies since I wanted to always know more and more. I felt that it was time to stop but my brain did not know that yet. There are a lot of things, advantages and disadvantages you have to consider before taking a gap year. Let’s explore those!

What is considered a gap year?

A lot of people call it a sabbatical year. It is a year that a student takes after high school or after college as a break from studies and do different activities. Although it is more common to take a gap year before college, taking a gap year after college is also widespread and preferred. A study done by London Economics concluded that the deferral rate for the autumn term of 2020 was 17% higher than the usual one. This means that the current pandemic had a great impact on students’ decision to continue their studies. 

Why do people take gap years?

Gap years can have huge advantages. There are actually even universities and colleges who suggest taking gap years before starting their studies. This is why taking a gap year is becoming more and more popular not only in the US, but all over the world. It is interesting to see that even people beyond their academic years chose to take a gap year. Many people around their 60s choose to take a gap year to reevaluate their life and reflect on their journey. 

There are countless reasons that people can choose to take a gap year for. A lot of them want to take some time to pursue their hobbies. Due to most of the time being spent on assignments and exams during their studies, they rarely have time to pursue their hobbies and passions. Thus, they might be unable to enjoy the benefits their hobbies offer.

Another popular reason is that they want to gain more experience. Due to the academic duties, they might have been unable to take an internship or volunteer somewhere. Thus, the gap year is ideal for that. They can go volunteer at an international organization or local ones in which they surely will learn a lot. There are countless organizations that offer volunteering programs all around the world for which you can sign up. They can also choose to apply for an internship. Although the majority of them does not pay really well, the experience you get for your CV is ideal. 

There are also people who take a gap year to travel. They choose different countries to visit from all around the world. This is beneficial since it gives the opportunity of exploring other cultures which increases our ability to understand others and increase our knowledge about other cultures and the way people live. So, for whichever reason one chooses to take a gap year, just make sure to plan ahead and get the most out of it!

The most difficult side of taking a gap year

There is a certain stigma around gap year. This comes especially from societal expectations. People from older generations have a harder time to accept the fact that we do not need to rush into college or masters right away. They want us to keep up with the social clock and do everything exactly on time. But, whose time? Each one of us has their own unique path of life and although it takes courage and power to resist the social clock, we have to do it!

Final Thoughts

All of these factors were on my mind when I was thinking to take a gap year. My heart knew that I had to pause a bit and discover what I want, so I did that. And you know what? It was the best decision I have ever made.