How to Determine Whether a Gap Year is Right for You

By IvyWise on Monday, April 13, 2020

AdobeStock_294575151What to Consider When Contemplating a Gap Year

From Malia Obama to Yara Shahidi, a multitude of celebrities have opted to take some time off before pursuing their college degree. But how can students determine if a gap year is really the right decision for them?

A recent survey found that over a quarter of college-bound high school seniors are rethinking their college choices due to the coronavirus pandemic. With college visits and admitted student events canceled or moved to being hosted online, and uncertainty about the fall, it’s important for students to make informed decisions. Before opting to take a year off, it’s important to reflect on your goals and create a plan. Keep reading to learn how you can determine whether a gap year makes sense for you as well as for tips to make the most of it.

Weigh Your Options
Students may be drawn to the idea of a gap year for a variety of reasons: some may feel like they need some time to refresh after high school, while others may be less than thrilled with their current college admissions outcomes. Regardless of your scenario, it’s important to weigh every option before making your final decision. Consider the pros and cons of different colleges you were accepted to, as well as potential opportunities you could pursue during your gap year. There are several different ways to spend your year off productively, from volunteering to interning to conducting an independent research project, so it’s important to get specific before making your final decision.

Do Your Research
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of options, it’s time to do some research to make an informed decision. Look into each gap year agenda you are considering and map out every possibility. Students who are interested in doing volunteer work should investigate specific opportunities, while those with an independent project in mind should create a timeline for their work. It’s important to remember that a gap year shouldn’t be used as a months-long vacation; instead, it should be an opportunity for students to grow and expand their horizons. Instead of looking at a gap year as an easy option, recognize that it requires tremendous maturity and personal motivation in order to spearhead your own project and step outside of the box.

Seek a Second Opinion
Ultimately, taking a gap year is your decision, but it can be beneficial to gain insight from those close to you. Discuss the opportunity with your family as well as your guidance counselor and teachers. If you know anyone who has taken a gap year in the past, reach out to them to learn more about their experience and gather some first-hand advice. Approach your gap year decision with the mindset of a journalist working on a major story and strive to gather input from a multitude of different sources to complement your own research.

Plan for Your Return
If you do decide to take a gap year, it’s also necessary to think beyond the year in question. Consider whether you wish to defer your enrollment in order to accommodate a gap year or whether you would prefer to undergo the college application process from scratch. For students who were disappointed with their admissions results, a gap year can be an opportunity to revamp their college application materials and reconsider their list of best-fit institutions. Other students may wish to enroll at a university they were already admitted to, in which case deferring enrollment is typically your best option. 

Choosing to take a gap year may feel like a leap of faith, but it can be an exciting opportunity for students to learn outside of the classroom. If you are considering a gap year and want expert insight and personalized guidance, our team of college admissions counselors are here to help.



Related Topics
12th Grade, College Admission Decision, Gap Years