9 Reasons Why A Gap Year Might Not Be A Good Idea

We explore 9 reasons why a student taking a gap year during the 2020-2021 academic terms might not be a good idea.

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 face of COVID-19 and with some schools hosting Fall classes online, might not be a great idea.

1. Tuition for 2020/21 is frozen.

St. Peter's College (SPC), the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and many other organizations within the province have decided to freeze the cost of tuition for the next year. This means that a class you take in Fall 2020 will be the same cost as it was in Fall 2019. Over the last twenty years, the cost of tuition at most educational institutions worldwide has tended to rise by a small percentage each year. Continuing your education this Fall means that you will likely pay less for your degree than if you started in a later year.

2. Most scholarships dry up after exiting high school.

Most institutions offer the bulk of their scholarships, awards & bursaries to students entering university for their first year. A large portion of this money is frequently 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 applied for.

Students at St. Peter's College are eligible to keep all of their USask scholarships as well as any winnings from the $80,000+ in scholarships that SPC offers. The deadline to apply for SPC scholarships to gain access to these funds is June 21st. All USask students are eligible to apply to St. Peter's College to gain access to the additional scholarship pool. 


3. 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 occasionally 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. If you are questioning what program may be the right one for you, we encourage you to contact our academic advisors to find the right program for you.

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

Just because you were accepted in 2020/21 does not mean you will be accepted the next year!

Some programs, such as Engineering 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 there, 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. 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 are still few details released about Fall 2020.

The Fall plans of most post-secondary institutions in the province have only been recently released in the last several weeks. Earlier this month the University of Saskatchewan announced that fall would be primarily remote delivery. The details on which classes will be entirely face-to-face, a hybrid of online and face-to-face, and which will be entirely online have yet to be released. It might be worth waiting to see these details until you decide to withdraw your application. 

As of May 22nd, St. Peter's College has not yet made any formal announcements about its Fall classes. Follow the St. Peter's College Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with any news that may come.

6. There is no guarantee of a full-time job or being able to travel.

Governments at local, provincial and federal levels have been at work to provide financial support and jobs to students, workers, businesses, and more. COVID-19 has slowed down the worldwide economy and with that comes the potential for job losses. A common reason for students taking a gap year is to work, travel, or gain experience. With the worldwide economy still recovering and with borders throughout the world remaining closed or on high-alert, options may be limited to work or travel. Right now might be the best time to begin an education!

7. 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.

8. You've already had practice.

COVID-19 has meant students now have to study at home and that some workers must work from home. Current university students had their remaining weeks of the term changed to an online or distance format. If this is the case, you've likely already adjusted your learning habits and schedule to maximize your learning. Continue with these habits to ensure your academic success in the event you study any online classes and ensure you attend our Academic Center of Excellence (ACE) meetings to get the best out of your learning.  

While the transition to university is a big one, St. Peter's College has been well known to be the best transition from high school to university.

9. 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 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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