Hi there. In this education blog post, I talk about a "gap year" being a viable option after high school and before university/college. A gap year is essentially taking a year off after high school and enter university/college the year after.
The motivation behind this post is based on the CBC News online article with the headline of Gap year gaining popularity thanks to COVID-19. According to the article, high school graduate are seriously considering taking a gap year as classes in the fall will be online.
- "Stigmas" Of Gap Years
- Benefits Of Gap Years
- COVID-19 & Financial Factors
"Stigmas" Of Gap Years
Young adults who take gap years from schooling are usually looked down upon. These gap year youths are perceived as lazy, "lost", or even no longer academically "competitive". My guess is that these perceptions is from societal pressures where you have to go to school and get your degree to do well and if you do nothing you fall behind.
Benefits Of Gap Years
Looking past the negatives, there are some neat benefits in taking a gap year.
Time Off To Reflect
School can be tough as you have to juggle class hours, homework, social pressures, family time and free time. With all the chaos, it can be a good idea to slow down and take time off to reflect. This reflection time is useful for figuring out what you want, what you like and understanding yourself.
Time For Travel
For those who are able to, this free time from a gap year can be used for travel. Travelling around the world is an educational experience on its own where the learning is way more dynamic and eye-opening. Learning about other cultures and foods is truly a unique learning experience.
Retaking Courses For Improving Grades
Some youths choose to take a gap year in order to retake certain courses to improve their grades for a more competitive application to certain university/college programs. Learning something for the second time is much more different than learning topics for the first time. The concepts the second (or even third) time around are much more digestible to the brain.
One thing to note, the second time around has to involve more effort, discipline, maturity. There is not point of extra chances when it is not taken seriously.
Using The Gap Year For Work And Making Money
Correct me if I am wrong, the mid 1900s had education prices that were affordable. Nowadays, education prices are just insane in the United States and to a lesser extent Canada. Canada tuition prices in general are in the several thousand dollars a year while American university annual tuition prices are comparable to car prices. (Americans should consider Canadian universities or even European ones for cheaper tuition in my opinion!) Some specialized programs may cost even more.
With these costs in mind, taking a gap year to work for money is a good idea from a personal finance perspective. Working during the gap year will build up funds to help pay off tuition. More importantly working for the money will assist in understanding and respecting the value of money. Not everyone has the funds for education and not everyone would be willing to take out big debts for education that may or may not be useful (in about four/five years time).
Time For Hobbies & Sports
There are youths out there that have massive athletic talents and are undecided between a sports career or higher education. A gap year could be used to see if the sports career can take off. If the sports career does work out, the education path is always there when the person comes back into school as a mature student.
This also applies to hobbies such as music, dance, martial arts, video games (e-sports), some of the arts and entertainment.
Alternative Online Learning As An Option
This one is a bit of a guess from me. Some people could use the gap year to self learn from the interwebs. Online learning would be from Youtube, Udemy, KhanAcademy, Codecademy, etc. This online learning can be mixed with time off to reflect, traveling the world, working and/or sports.
COVID-19 & Financial Factors
This COVID-19 lockdown thing has really impacted the education industry and the students. When it comes to challenges, some interesting solutions do emerge. Decisions that were viewed as bad in the past are now viewed as possibly sensible (and vice versa).
It makes sense for students to not enter university/college when their first year would start with online courses. All online courses is typically not a part of the first year experience. The social aspect in living in dorms, seeing professors and meeting classmates is desired. If tuition prices remain the same but the education content is online, people may reconsider and think that the value is not there and opt out. This opting out could be good as lower demand could lead to lower tuition prices (deflation).
Another financial consideration is that funds that would've been used for tuition payments could be used for emergencies while being on lockdown. Many people's income streams have vanished due to job losses and closed businesses. Taking on more debt for schooling is risky.
The decision making here does not necessarily have to be between no school vs school. You can certainly adopt an in-between approach where there is part-time schooling with an optional part-time work on top.
Technological advances has given so much choice when it comes to online learning.
Choosing a major/program for many young adults before their 20s is tough. Many won't make informed decisions that could dictate the next five or so years of their lives.