To gap or not to gap .. that is the question

The Gap Year takes off in Canada …

While the gap year or “year out” has been a common and popular rite of passage in Australia and many countries in Europe for decades, traditionally North American students have ridden the academic conveyor belt all the way from preschool to university without a break. Now the tides are changing and many soon-to-be high school graduates are saying they’re burnt out, and need more time before deciding what they want to take at university. Instead of packing for their freshman year, they are now booking their flights to go volunteering in Africa, or work on a yacht in the Caribbean.

North America is starting to catch on to the “gap year” syndrome, and for good reason. Amid concerns about drop-out rates, researchers now say that students who go straight to university often find themselves in a program that doesn’t interest them, and are more likely to change programs, thus prolonging their degree and increasing their debt level, and they are more likely to quit. Experts now say that going straight to university is short-sighted and a year out is the way to go!

Taking a gap year has never been easier! Many universities are now willing to defer start dates for a year – York University is embracing this gap year phenomenon with its Bridging the Gap program and “celebrates” a student’s choice to take a year off to gain work experience, do community service or go on an international exchange and will reserve the student’s admission spot for up to a year provided he or she is accepted into the program. Harvard University, one of the top universities in the world, has always been ahead of its time and for the past 40 years has proposed that students take a year out in its letter of admission.

Is there a downside to taking a gap year? Not really, according to a 2008 Statistics Canada report published jointly with Canadian Policy Research Networks. The report found that students who delay postsecondary education don’t face a disadvantage in the labour market later on – as long as they actually complete their program once started. In fact, a Canadian Council of Learning study found that students who took a gap year were eight per cent more likely to be employed.

“To gap or not to gap… that is the question.” Students who have taken the year out, universities, and the latest statistics are saying “Yes, go for it!” Although it may be a daunting prospect for parents and kids to divert from the “safe” bound-for-university-after-high-school route, the rewards and benefits are well worth stepping out of that comfort zone. To find out about gap year options, check out or the Study and Go Abroad Fairs.



About the Author: Katie Idle

About our business, Study and Go Abroad is the 'go to' site for Canadians looking to study abroad, travel, intern or volunteer. We organize fairs twice a year in various cities in Canada, and I'd recommend getting down to one of them to check out all the exciting options. As for me, I'm a business woman and a travel junkie! I have always had a passion for travel and for experiencing new cultures. Brought up in England, I traveled Europe in my teens and early 20s. I have lived and worked on 3 continents; Europe, Africa and North America. I have traveled extensively worldwide both for work and for fun - and still can't believe how much of the world there is still to see!

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