Potential Drawbacks Of Taking A Gap Year After College

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Taking a gap year after graduating from college can be an incredible opportunity, though it does come with some possible risks, such as:     

  • Cost – Gap years can be expensive and costs will add up quickly if you are not bringing in an income.
  • Being on your own – Sometimes this comes as feeling disconnected and/or isolated.
  • Loss of momentum – When you return from a gap year, it can be challenging to find the motivation to go back to school or work.
  • Planning – A LOT of planning is required for a gap year, and this can be overwhelming.
  • Feeling like it’s a set-back – For some people, taking a gap year might not be the best idea for the long term because you might feel that it will “set you back.”
  • If you plan on jumping into work – It is a prime time to get hired right after college. It might be a little more challenging to find work if you wait.
  • If you plan on pursuing graduate school – Going straight into a grad program right after your undergrad degree can be a great idea. You might lose some of that motivation if you wait.

However…

However, if you plan on taking a gap year, it can have wonderful benefits and be a great opportunity. Before you proceed, just make sure you do your research and are aware of possible risks that can come with it first.

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Longer Version


Est. Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Going straight to work or going back to school immediately after you graduate from college is not the magic recipe for success…It completely depends on your circumstances. When it comes to your life journey, there are countless options, opportunities, and decisions that you need to make as soon as you are out in the “real world” after graduation. There is not necessarily a right or wrong, and with the freedom to do as you wish, you might want to kick tradition to the curb and do your own thing. That’s awesome and you absolutely should! If that includes taking a gap year, great. But keep in mind, it is important for you to be aware of the possible risks that come with taking a gap year before you proceed.

Though taking a gap year can be an incredible experience for some, it is not the right path for everyone. With that being said, the LAST thing I am trying to do is crush your dreams. This article will review the possible risks of taking a gap year after college, and explain why it’s important to do your research first if you decide to go for it.

The possible risks of taking a gap year

Some of the possible risks of pursuing a gap year are listed below:

Cost

Gap years can be expensive and costs will add up quickly if you are not bringing in an income. Cost is especially relevant if you are considering traveling during your gap year. Traveling is a wonderful opportunity that people take advantage of during all walks of life and is certainly not something that you miss the boat on if you don’t take a gap year.

Being on your own

If you travel or move away during your gap year, this means that you are distancing yourself from family and friends, and your prior life. This can be a good thing! However, sometimes distance and being on your own comes with the feeling of being disconnected and/or isolated.

Loss of momentum

I am not saying this will happen, but it can. When you are in go, go, go mode in college and then suddenly pump the brakes, this might affect that forward momentum either professionally or academically. When you return from a gap year, it can be challenging to find the motivation to go back to school or work.

Planning

A LOT of planning is required for a gap year, and this can be overwhelming. This is certainly not a deal-breaker but be aware of some of the stress that might come with planning this kind of adventure.

Feeling like it’s a setback

For some people, taking a gap year might not be the best idea for the long term because you might feel that it will “set you back.” Others might feel fearful of falling behind compared to their peers or “wasting time.”

If you plan on jumping into work…

The time right after college is a prime time for you to get out there, and get hired. However, if you skipped those career fairs during your last semester as a student, it might be a little more challenging to find work later.

If you plan on pursuing graduate school…

If you know you want to begin a graduate degree someday, going straight into a grad program right after your undergrad degree can be a great idea. You are current, fresh, motivated, and hey… the sooner you start, the sooner you will have even more fancy letters after your name, right? If you wait, you might lose some of that motivation.

Taking a gap year is not all bad!

Again, the purpose of this article is not to drown you with risks and consequences. The risks listed above are not provided to sway you away from pursuing a gap year, they are provided to advise you to not go in with a “winging it” approach. Taking a gap year is an ideal move for some people! For many, taking a gap year actually makes a hugely positive impact on their careers. It’s just important that you are aware of the risks before diving in.

Ready, set, PLAN

Be aware that making a plan is a very real and necessary step at this stage in your life and one that you should take seriously.

If you are thinking about taking a gap year, set goals and figure out what you want to accomplish during that time.

If you decide to move forward with this adventure, I advise you to act with intention. Set yourself up for success by treating this endeavor with proper intent. A gap year is the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of adventures but is not an excuse to sit back and not do anything.

Whatever your heart desires can serve as the foundation of your gap year, just make sure you figure out what it is first. It is important to have clear goals and outcomes of exactly what will make this gap year a success for you. This way, it will not feel like a waste of time and money 12 months later.

To sum it all up…

Though taking a gap year can come with some risks, it is still absolutely worth considering. It is important for you to have as much information as possible before you proceed! Be aware of the possible risks, plan ahead, and make the best choice for you.

Actionable Steps


1

Do your research

Be aware that taking a gap year is not for everyone, and do some research so you are familiar with the possible risks that can come with taking the leap and going for it.

2

Know yourself

Take time to do some self-reflection, and make the decision that is ultimately best for you.

3

Make a plan

If you decide to move forward, be organized and intentional in making a plan. Set clear goals so your gap year will be a success.

Still need help? Ask the coaches!

About the Author


Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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