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Post-Covid Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

Originally published May 2009.

After dealing with Covid-19 challenges this past year, should teens take a gap year to recover losses? The pandemic has been a challenge for students of all ages. The transition to online learning had been difficult for students academically. However, for many students, missing out on important school milestones and rites of passage has been the most difficult. Graduations, social events, and school extracurricular events have all been cancelled this year.

For teens heading to college next year, a gap year is one way to recoup lost experiences. Another way is by taking a victory lap.

What is a Gap Year?

A Gap Year is a year off between the end of high school and the beginning of university. A Gap Year can be a rite of passage for under-experienced high school students to build real-world skills and experiences. It is considered a way for students to spread their wings and gain some much-needed personal growth before committing to higher education.

Benefits Include:

  • Gain hands-on work experience
  • Travel
  • Make new friends
  • Volunteer
  • Build resume
  • Develop hands-on school skills
  • Make money for school
  • Reassess priorities
  • Personal growth

Finances & Motivation

With rising tuition fees, taking a year off to earn money can be a wise move for those with limited financial resources. But parents and critics of the gap year worry that students will lose school motivation and won’t want to return to school after a year off—that the time away will have a disruptive effect on school goals and motivation.

However, certain colleges recommend that students defer their acceptance for a year as a way to prevent freshman “burnout.” Colleges that support a year off report that students return from the gap year refreshed, revitalized, and better prepared to face four years of schoolwork. According to the Gap Year Association, students who take gap years are more likely to graduate in four years or less compared to the national average of six years.

Should Your Teen A Year Off?

Any student who feels overwhelmed by school choices, finances, or issues of motivation should consider the benefits of a gap year.

Students considering taking a gap year should work with current guidance counselors, parents, and even schools being applied to in order to work out a plan to defer acceptance, save money, again experience and make up for all that they have missed out on this past year.

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