background image

Thinking About Taking a Gap Year? Here Are Some Pros and Cons to Consider

NOV 27, 2020 • 7 min read

With COVID circumstances throwing a wrench into many students’ college plans, the prospect of delaying the start of university poses a practical solution for some. Whether you’re considering deferring enrollment or postponing your college applications until the next admissions cycle, there are some pros and cons to mull over.

Pro: If the school(s) you’re interested in have made drastic changes to campus operations due to COVID, you may be able to wait it out. Your daydreams about beginning your college career probably haven’t included online classes or quarantined dorm life. Universities are handling the pandemic as best as they can, but even in the most well-managed circumstances, this year’s freshmen may not get the new student experience they signed up for.

Con: Come back-to-school season, circumstances could be much different — meaning the decision to wait it out could be in vain. If there’s one fact about life during a pandemic that rings true for all of us, it’s that you can never predict how the situation will evolve. Your dream school may be operating remotely for now, but in a few months’ time, things could be much closer to pre-COVID than you anticipate.

Pro: If you’ve begun a passion project and want to see it through, eliminating academics for a year can provide the time you need to jump in. Whether you’ve got a brilliant idea for a research project or have been waiting for the perfect time to start a nonprofit, taking time away from school to throw yourself into it can be immensely beneficial for your resume and can arm you with some practical experience as you head off to university.

Con: Spending time away from academics can make it difficult to find your way back. Have you ever come back to school after a winter break or summer vacation and felt a bit of inertia working against you? If you don’t use your time away from school wisely, coming back to academics after several months off could make it more difficult to revive good study habits and an eagerness to learn.

Pro: You can spend the extra time developing interpersonal skills and professional competence that may leave you better prepared for college. The transition to university can be challenging in many ways — especially if you’re worried about staying safe and healthy in a new environment. If the thought of moving into a college dorm in a few short months gives you social anxiety, spending a year working, interning or volunteering could give you a chance to hone the crucial soft skills and confidence you’ll need to feel comfortable and excited to start the next chapter.

Con: As your peers head off to uni, you may feel like you’re falling behind. After you’ve spent much of your high school career mapping out your path to college, deciding to delay your enrollment can leave you feeling discouraged or defeated. You’ll have to consider how starting late while most of your friends head off to college may affect you, and whether it’s worth taking a risk.****

Pro: The past year has been difficult for most of us, and perhaps you deserve a well-earned break. The pandemic has hit communities, families and individuals hard, and for some, the circumstances have been particularly challenging. Balancing your mental health with your studies is paramount, and sometimes that can mean taking a reprieve from your studies to pursue other enriching activities like volunteering or traveling (within the bounds of your country’s limitations, of course).


Con: Depending on how you want to spend your gap year and where you live, executing those plans could be harder than you expect.
While taking a break from academics to redirect your energy towards something else could be advantageous, COVID circumstances have undeniably limited work and travel opportunities. Going into a gap year with unrealistic expectations can lead to a mountain of disappointment.

There’s no clear-cut answer to the question of whether or not to take a gap year. However, one universal truth is that if you decide to delay the start of university, it’s imperative that you use the extra time wisely. Research your options the same way you’ve researched different colleges and fields of study to make sure you’re informed about all your options — whether you head straight to uni or take some time away — before making a decision.

Not sure if a gap year is the right choice for you? Wondering how best to utilize an extra year between schooling? We can help! Crimson’s mentors have supported hundreds of students in finding the right extracurriculars and career experiences to help them get on a path to success, in college and beyond. To learn how Crimson can advise you on whether taking a gap year is the right decision — and how to use it if you do — click the link below and schedule a free one hour consultation with one of our Academic Advisors.

background image

Want to be a top US university applicant?

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company helping students get into universities like Yale, Harvard, Stanford and more!