Some students can benefit from taking a gap year

·3 min read

More students are taking a gap year between high school and college or between college and graduate school.

This was especially true during the pandemic as colleges sent students home to complete coursework online. Some students opted to withdraw from their four-year programs and take community college classes. Others decided to work for a year and then go back to school.

Taking a structured gap year helps a student focus, develop a sense of purpose and increase his or her engagement with the world, according to the Gap Year Association.

If a student has goals to achieve during the hiatus from school, a gap year can be beneficial.

Consider these statistics from

  • 90 percent of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year.

  • Students who have taken a gap year overwhelmingly report that they are satisfied with their jobs.

  • National statistics show that half of medical school-minded students are taking at least one gap year.

That last statistic was an eye-opener for our family. Many medical-related graduate degrees require hours spent in on-the-job training, either through observation hours or as an assistant.

When our daughter mentioned during her junior year in college that she might take a gap year after graduation, I was unsure if that was the best choice.

Parents can be concerned that a student will become accustomed to a paycheck and won’t want to return to school, especially graduate school where part-time jobs aren’t always an option, particularly in the first year of school.

As we considered the practical hours required by most medical graduate school programs, it became increasingly evident that a year of working as an assistant in the field would be needed.

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While some students can fit in the required practical hours during their four years in college, fulfilling this requirement is challenging for student-athletes, marching band members or those working part-time jobs.

Add COVID-related protocols and pressures to their college experience, and it’s no wonder so many of them are opting to take a year away from academia.

Parents of these students can take a collective deep breath and step back to see what happens.

As our daughter’s gap year is ending, I admit she was right. She needed this gap year for many reasons.

She gained a wealth of knowledge working as a physical therapy assistant and is convinced that physical therapy is the career for her.

She refocused and recharged in preparation for starting a three-year doctorate program in the fall. She was accepted to three programs.

Plus, we were able to have her home for a year before she goes off again. That has been a blessing.

Gap years might not be the best option for every student, but some will find the structured break from school beneficial.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail. Send an email to her at Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_Prejean.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Some students can benefit from taking a gap year