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I'd like to take a gap year between high school and post-secondary. Is that a good idea?

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Answer

Whether you call it a gap year, a bridge year or a foundation year, taking a year between high school and post-secondary can be a chance to set yourself up for success. A gap year can be a great idea, and you can do many interesting and productive things with it.

Common reasons for taking a year off include

  • saving more money before starting a post-secondary program
  • being unsure of what to do next
  • pursuing a personal passion, such as travel or athletic training
  • taking time to reorganize your life and return to it refreshed

Consider Your Reasons

Some reasons for taking a year off are better than others. Creating a plan for your year can help you think more deeply about your reasons.

Your plan can be as simple or as detailed as you like. For example, if you want to travel, you could plan to work full time for 6 months and travel for the other 6. If your goal is athletic training, you could set detailed training goals and list competitions you hope to enter.

If you find it difficult to come up with a plan, you may want to think a little longer about why you want the year off.

Make the Most of Your Time

A gap year can also be a time for discovering new interests and figuring out what you really want to do. For example, you could

  • Take a training course that helps meet your career goals.
  • Expand your horizons by studying abroad.
  • Participate in an international internship or volunteer work.
  • Volunteer locally to gain experience, skills, professional contacts and knowledge.
  • Practice networking.
  • Interview people in professions that interest you to help you decide if you want to pursue a particular career.
  • Improve your employability by taking classes or pursuing personal projects.

Defer Your Post-Secondary Plans

If you’re sure of your academic direction but want a year off to pursue a personal interest, find out if your college or university will let you accept an admission offer and defer it for a year. In this scenario, your school holds your spot for you, so you don’t need to worry about applications and paperwork while on your year off.

If you organize your year around career-based or personal growth activities, you’ll finish it better prepared and more confident that you have the skills and knowledge you need to make the most of your post-secondary program or launch your career.