Opinion | It’s OK to take a gap year

More students have been taking gap years due to current events in the world, this could be a great option for many.


Katie Goodale

Students walk on the Pentacrest on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The university will be suspending classes until at least April 3, 2020 and will be moving instruction online amidst concerns around coronavirus.

Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist

With the stresses placed on everyone by the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to focus on college work seems more difficult with each passing day. While dropping out isn’t exactly a plan to be advised, there is another alternative — taking a gap year. It’s an option not a lot of people talk about, and when we do it’s looked down upon. But that needs to change.

According to an article by The Daily Iowan, this year there has been a significant increase in the number of students applying to take a gap year. This year there have been 26 gap year applications which is a 50% increase from last year where there were only 13. 

In addition to more gap year applications, according to another Daily Iowan article, there has been an overall decrease in freshman enrollment with there being 456 fewer students in the class of 2024 than the class of 2023.   

Across the board colleges in America have seen an increase in students taking gap years. According to an article done by Edsurge, Harvard has taken it so far as to encourage first year students to take a year off — resulting in 20% of their incoming students deciding to defer their admission. 

Additionally, 40% of incoming freshmen reported they were most likely not going to attend college in the fall, according to a survey taken by Inside Higher Ed in August. Out of the returning students surveyed, 28% of them reported they were not or were unsure of returning to college in the fall. 

I know many of my peers and classmates have considered doing the same due to not having access to the same resources and college experience they would normally be paying for. Although many students have considered taking a gap year many have not had the opportunity to do so due to scholarships that require them to keep going.    

Although it can be scary to put your future plan on hold, if you have the opportunity, it is not a bad idea to take a gap year at this time, especially considering the events that have taken place this year. Stress levels are already high with COVID-19, the election, ongoing social justice efforts and more. For many, adding school on top of that is not feasible.  

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, 71% of the students surveyed indicated they are experiencing increased stress and anxiety levels due to COVID-19. Furthermore, 36% of students reported moderate increases in difficulty concentrating and 32% reported severe levels of difficulty concentrating.   

Most students are facing greater struggles this semester. With this in mind, taking a gap year could be a good decision for the mental health of many students and serve as time for personal growth.  

According to data from the Gap Year Association’s 2020 National survey 73% of college gap year participants agreed or strongly agreed that a gap year increased their preparedness for school. The majority of participants also reported taking a gap year helped them realize what they are interested in studying in school.  

Although it is hard to explore our interests at this time due to COVID-19, a gap year could still allow future students the time to save money and reflect on possible areas of interest for their future. In addition, with the amount of students facing unforeseen challenges this year, taking a gap year could be the best thing for the mental and physical health of many.  

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.