Should students take a gap year?

Around June every year, students celebrate the end of their previous academic year and look forward to the next. For some students, they might finally be looking at the finish line to their journey in high school. 

This now begs the question: what next? 

For many students, a gap year stands out as an opportunity to take a break and get a reset before university. Some students are looking for a chance to explore, travel, and gain new experiences. Others might be looking for self-development and seeking to build life or work skills before university. Some may be simply looking to earn money to pay for university. 

Whatever the reason, a common denominator underlies all these reasons: fear.

Most gap year students don’t know what they want to do or how they’re going to pay for it and fear wasting time and money pursuing a university education they’re unsure about. However, the best way to dispel these fears might be to take the leap and head straight to university.

Setting yourself up for financial success

University education is no small expense. In fact, the average Canadian graduates with over $26,000 in debt by the end of their undergraduate degree. However, scholarships can help you avoid this and finance your education.

Unlike loans, scholarships don’t need to be paid back and are awarded based on your academic achievement or other accomplishments. Current estimates say that there are millions of dollars in scholarships that go unclaimed every year—simply because students don’t apply!

If you want to access this pool of free money, Grade 12 is the best time to do it. During this period, you have a unique opportunity window to win 5-10 times more scholarships than in any other year. If you decide to take a gap year, you might miss out on a huge opportunity to finance your education.

Your safest bet is to apply to scholarships in Grade 12. If you still want to take a gap year, some scholarships can be deferred. However, others must be used immediately in the next school year. Winning enough money in scholarships might make the option of going to school immediately more appealing to you.

Achieving personal development without a gap year

Many choose a gap year for a chance to explore their goals outside of school. However, the journey of preparing for university can provide many of the same benefits gap year students seek. 

Most scholarships are merit-based. They award students that show achievement in areas like volunteerism, arts, and athletics. Strong community involvement is a must in order to become a strong scholarship candidate. Volunteering and challenging yourself to become a leader can help you gain clarity on what really matters to you. 

What are you passionate about? 

What goals do you have? 

How do you want to make an impact on the world?

Many students find that volunteering helps them learn more about themselves and figure out what they want to do with their lives. Instead of taking a gap year, you can gain this insight for free during high school.

The university environment can also provide more opportunities for finding yourself and exploring new experiences. University campuses provide a safe environment for students to meet new people, learn important skills, and find new opportunities. 

University education not only boosts your personal development but helps you professionally. A degree is a requirement for many jobs nowadays. Going to university can boost your job prospects and provide you with networking opportunities and experience to put on resumes. 

All in all, there’s no clear-cut answer about whether taking a gap year is best or not. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what is best for you. However, learning all the facts will help you to make a clear decision and ensure that fear is not holding you back from pursuing your dreams. 

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