Gap Year After College: Pros, Cons and How to Take Right Decision

18 Jul, 2022


Are you considering taking a gap year before graduate school but wondering whether it is the right thing to do?

Students often consider taking a gap year before graduate school for several reasons. While some are taking a gap year because they are uncertain about their career path and want to re-evaluate it, others are taking a gap year because they are financially restricted.

In this blog, we discuss how you can make an informed decision on whether to take a gap year in your academic studies or not.

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What is a Gap Year after College?

A gap year is a term used to define a break students take in their education for different reasons. Most students typically opt for a gap of only one year, either between completing high school and starting university or between an undergraduate and graduate degree program. Uncertainty or restricted finances are not the only reasons why students decide to take a break.  In most cases, students take this time to actively pursue activities such as volunteering, part time courses, internships or career mentorships, working holidays or international travel with the aim to grow academically or personally. These activities can be done independently or as part of a structured gap-year program.

Virtual gap years are also becoming an increasingly popular decision among graduates as they provide an outlet for skills or passions that are not met by physical volunteering. Flexibility in scheduling, location and the variety of positions available for very remote volunteers make this option very attractive. Virtual gap year program ideas may include teaching children or English online, completing online courses, learning a foreign language online, virtual paid jobs, etc.

Some students also start saving money for their graduate education by working in part or fulltime jobs during their gap year, giving them hands-on experience in their chosen fields or other areas of interest. Having prior work experience can develop skills to make an individual more marketable and thus provide greater career choice.


Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year after College

Taking a gap year can pay off in surprising ways. Although there are several benefits for taking a gap year during your academic studies, it is not for everyone. Herewith a summary of the pros and cons of taking a gap year or going straight into graduate school.




Gaining Work Experience and Developing New Skills:
Finding a job or internship is an excellent way to enrich your resume. The professional knowledge, valuable skills and experience you gain will give you a better understanding of your career goals and help you choose the right program when you go back to graduate school. In fact, some graduate programs, especially MBAs, require students to have work experience.

Intercultural experiences and transferable skills such communication, teamwork, independence, social skills and decision making that you gain while on a gap year will help you to excel in your graduate studies as well as your future career. Furthermore, a paid job will give you the financial freedom to pursue your next degree.
Loss of Motivation:
You may find it difficult to put in the hard work required to invest in yourself after an extended break from your studies. You also can easily fall into bad habits, laziness, and procrastination if you lack productivity and motivation during your gap year. It then would be best to continue your education which will more likely keep you focused on what is essential for your academic success and career goals.
  Time to Complete:
If you want to take some time off from your studies, make sure it does not disturb the timeline of your future goals, such as pursuing a master’s degree or PhD.
Preparing Graduate School Applications:
A gap year can offer a valuable opportunity to decide whether graduate school is the right choice for you or which graduate program is the best fit.

You also can prepare for graduate program admission, i.e., improving your academic credentials, taking standardized tests, ensuring your resume is applicable to the program you are applying to, writing effective admission essays, choosing referees who know you, improving your interview skills, and securing financial support for your graduate studies.
Graduate Program Admission Offers:
You will have to showcase to admission officers what you have achieved during your gap year, i.e., in terms of personal development or new skills learnt. It is therefore key that you carefully plan ahead and consider sufficient constructive activities that will add value to your resume and ultimately, future career.
Refocusing and Recharging Yourself:
You can take ample time out of your gap year to rejuvenate yourself physically and mentally. A gap year could also be used to develop important life skills.
Financial and Personal Risks:
Taking a gap year may bring several financial and personal burdens that could affect your excitement and preparation for the next step in your education.
Career Opportunities:
A gap year can be an opportunity to learn more about career opportunities in your field of interest. You might even find new passions and skills to put yourself on the right career path.


Should You Take a Year Off Before Graduate School?

The decision to take a gap year or not is highly personal that depends entirely on your own situation. A gap year could be a perfect opportunity to take a break from your studies to reassess your life and career goals for your future. However, if you have strong professional goals, it would be in your best interest to eliminate the option of a gap year as it could distract you from your career path.

To determine if a gap year is right for you, it is crucial to assess the following:
• your personal and professional goals;
• your expectations and motivations;
• your existing career path; and,
• your financial situation.

To ensure that you use your gap year efficiently, you should create a plan for yourself that includes your goals, priorities and firm timelines. For more guidance on planning your gap year, consult the Gap-Year Planning Guide provided by the Gap Year Association (GYA).

Whatever your decision, you need to carefully research your graduate school of choice to ensure that it matches your personal and professional goals. Zayed University offers a range of graduate programs in many different areas such as:

1) Master in Diplomacy and International Affairs 

2) Master of Arts in Communication

3) Master of Legal and Judicial Studies

4) Master of Science in Finance

5) Master of Science in Counselling Psychology

6) Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability Sciences

7) Master of Science in Information Systems Management

8) Master of Science in Information Technology (Cyber Security)

For more information on Zayed University’s graduate programs and admission requirements, please contact the Deanship of Graduate Studies at +971-2-599-3605 /

Get to Know the Zayed Difference

Studying for a graduate degree is an important step in your career. We also know choosing the right university for your graduate studies is a big decision. Our internationally credentialed faculty, dedicated graduate student recruitment and admissions team and community of graduate students and alumni are here to guide you in your decision-making and provide as much information and assistance as you may need with the admissions process.

If you have any questions, please contact the Deanship of Graduate Studies at / +971-2-599-3605

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