7 reasons why you should avoid a gap-year

We discuss 7 reasons why students considering a gap year should re-consider their options and the consequences involved.

From when they first begin kindergarten to when they're walking across the stage at their high school graduation, youth are encouraged to talk about what they want to grow up to be. As students enter high school, they begin to research the work and education options available to them. Some students begin constructing a plan immediately, some are unsure of their pathway until they reach their grade 12 year, and some are still unsure of their future pathway even as they walk across the stage in their graduation ceremony.

A common answer among the youth of the present and of the last several decades has been taking a gap year. A gap year has benefits for the right person, but can also be detrimental to some. We're here to look into why taking a gap year, even in the tail-end of COVID-19, might not be a great idea.

1. Most scholarships dry up after exiting high school.

Let’s talk about money. Most institutions offer the bulk of their scholarships, awards & bursaries to students entering university for their first year, with a large portion of this money being reserved for students exiting high school. Students who take a gap year will no longer be entering as a freshly graduated high school student, meaning they may lose access to some scholarships they would have previously been eligible for. Combine this with the fact that the trend in post-secondary has been a slow increase in tuition for the last several decades, which means you will end up paying more and receiving fewer scholarships.

Students at St. Peter's College are eligible to keep all of their USask scholarships as well as any winnings from the $90,000+ in scholarships that SPC awards. The deadline to apply for SPC scholarships to gain access to these funds is June 20th. All USask students are eligible to apply to St. Peter's College to gain access to the additional scholarship pool. 

2. Students taking a gap year are less likely to go back to post-secondary.

It's a commonly spoken of event. For better or worse, students who do not pursue a post-secondary education upon graduating high school are less likely to go back to post-secondary. For some students, this may have been the correct call, but others will speak of regret for not going back to post-secondary (or waiting so long to do it). It is important to note that those who return to their studies typically do feel more confident that their choice is the correct one.

3. The first year is flexible for undecided learners. 

If you are questioning what program may be the right one for you, we encourage you to contact our academic advisors to find which of our 70+ programs might be right for you. The good news is that undecided students can set their future-self up for success, as the first-year of most USASK programs are very flexible and transferable, so changing majors can be an easy endeavour in some areas. Students undecided between 2 or 3 different programs can easily set themselves up for a successful start in all of them and finalize their decision later.

4. You might not be accepted when you come back.

Just because you were accepted in 2021/22 does not mean you will be accepted the next year!

Some university or polytechnic programs are first-come-first-served as long as you are a qualified applicant. If you had previously been accepted and saved a seat in the program and instead choose to take a gap year, your seat will no longer be reserved for you and you will have to reapply in-time to be awarded a seat. As most post-secondary applications in the province open in October, that means you would need to be confident about which program you are pursuing and reapply three or four months into your gap year.

Other programs, such as Education or Nursing, are based on competitive entry. As a rule of thumb, the more applicants for a program, the higher the required average for admissions. There are a limited number of seats and the students with the highest averages are the ones who are awarded these seats. If 25% of students take a gap year during 2020/21 and choose to come back in 2021/22, that means there will be 25% extra applicants which can raise the minimum average to be reserved a seat. 

5. There is growing optimism about Fall 2021.

Post-secondary institutions are starting to announce their intentions for the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 academic terms. St. Peter’s College successfully hosted in-person classes (through the hybrid learning model) for the 2020-2021 academic year with zero known cases of COVID-19, and plans to continue the hybrid model for Fall 2021. Students interested in learning in-person (or in having a flexible learning option) can start the first year of their USASK studies at St. Peter’s College. Learn more on why students choose St. Peter's College.

Earlier this month the University of Saskatchewan announced that they hope to see a significant increase to in-person and on-campus instruction for Fall 2021 and that there is optimism for a full face-to-face program delivery in Winter 2022. The details on which classes at USASK will be entirely face-to-face, a hybrid of online and face-to-face, and which will entirely online have yet to be released.

6. You might lose your academic 'groove'.

Have you ever tried to help a younger family member with their homework and struggling to explain how to find the answer? It's a common scenario, and it usually arises from the time gap since you last worked with that material or method. Practice makes perfect, and not practising something over months or years can cause you to struggle to remember some key techniques or skills!

At some point, most students in elementary or middle school encountered a mathematics question such as 15.24 ÷ 0.1096 and were likely able to solve it. Without having to practice these types of questions for years or decades, many people are able to answer it without struggling at least a little! It's an example of just what our brain forgets after losing exposure to it.

An advantage of entering post-secondary immediately after high school is that you are still in-tuned with your study skills and knowledge from your grade 12 year, making some subjects 'easier' to get into the groove of.

7. You can start slow to build confidence.

If the jump to university, whether online or face-to-face is still intimidating for you, there are options to start slow to build confidence and still be able to graduate in 4 years. The University of Saskatchewan allows students to begin in the spring and summer semesters, meaning it is feasible for high school students to take as many as 3 classes (9 credit units) before the fall semester even begins.

Students can also choose to take fewer classes during the Fall and then take a "full load" during the winter semester. If a student offsets this with taking an additional class or two during the spring or summer semesters, they will eventually 'catch-up' and be eligible to graduate within the traditional four-years.

If you have questions about the University of Saskatchewan, St. Peter's College, or are interested in learning what programs are available to study, feel free to contact one of our academic advisors.

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