What's a Gap Year? Should You Take a Gap Year in 2024?

By Canadian Gap Year Association Modified on June 12, 2024
Tags : Arts & Culture | Student POV | Travel

Taking a gap year can be a great way to assess your goals while developing your personal and professional skills.

What's a Gap Year? Should You Take a Gap Year in 2024?

What is a gap year, exactly?

Short answer: a gap year is an intentional break from formal education where you get to know YOU, your interests, your skills, and get experience outside of a classroom. It can be a whole year or just a semester.

Here's the long answer: we know you might be reading this because:

  • 1) you're curious about a gap year and what it could look like, but
  • 2) know that not everyone's on board with the idea.

Due to a general lack of awareness of how experiential learning boosts your development, personally and professionally (think high school co-op programs!), the option of a gap year often gets swept under the rug.

So, let's just take a moment to debunk these myths of a gap year causing you to "lose momentum" or "burden your professional career" — because they're simply not true.

The rise of the gap year

To start us off, let me touch on some of the reasons gap years have become increasingly popular over the last few years.

A gap year provides the opportunity for you to:

  • Get job experience while saving money for tuition
  • Identify your goals and passions
  • Understand the changing world around you

We've seen tuition fees rise in Canada over the last few years, presenting a HUGE barrier for families in need of financial aid.

It's clear why a gap year would be beneficial for getting students ready for higher education. But the question remains...

Why is no one talking about "readiness"?

Here's something I'm sure no one is telling you: if you're not ready for higher education right now, that's okay.

Nothing is stopping you from taking a gap year (or just a semester) to achieve goals you have outside of your academic career.

Many students use their gap year to:

  • Build community and grow their professional network
  • Work and / or travel abroad
  • Get job experience
  • Launch a start-up
  • Volunteer for a cause
  • Nurture and support their mental health

This intentional break for skill development and self-care boosts your resumé — and your chances of getting into your college or university of choice. Why?

Because these real world skills will better prepare you for your course load and the pressures of academic performance in college or university. They help you gain more confidence, understand how to navigate the "adult" world, and mentally prepare you for what's next.

Fun fact: a lack of community, poor mental health, and homesickness after launching yourself into your independence, are some of the top reasons why students drop out in their first year of college or university.

Deferring college or university

The thing is, if you're unsure of what post-secondary path you want to take right now, that's also okay. Many colleges and universities have deferral programs that allow you to accept your offer, but defer for a year so you can take an intentional break while preparing yourself for your program of choice.

So, how do you know if a gap year is right for you?

To make a gap year purposeful and successful, based on your goals and needs, there's a few things you need to prepare for as well.

This includes:

  • The idea that failure is a thing and it's your greatest teacher
  • Self-motivation and inspiration is challenging and you will need to continuously keep yourself moving towards your goals (no teachers to hold you accountable!)
  • Building your confidence and putting yourself out there to meet new people
  • Taking the lead and taking action on actually accomplishing your goals

Curious if a gap year is right for you? Take our Gap Year Quiz.

The quiz helps you discover how you might benefit from a gap year and what it could look like. We'll also connect you to our nationwide community of Gappers, alum, students, and gap year experts in our Gapper Connect Discord, as well as tons of resources that will support you in making a decision about your post-secondary path.

Not all success is defined by a degree.

Take the Gap Year Quiz now

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