Point/Counterpoint | Should students take a gap year?

Opinions contributor Elise Cagnard and editor Sophia Meador debate whether students should take an extended break from their studies.

March 19, 2023


Most high school students believe there are only two options after graduation: Go to college or find a job.

At least, that’s what I thought. I’ve spent the better part of 21 years in the confines of a classroom with teachers and professors guiding my coursework. There have been few opportunities outside the world of school and few opportunities to learn and make mistakes on my own accord.

As a junior in college, I’ve started to look at career paths to pursue post-graduation. While doing the standard job search, I can’t help but think I missed out on other opportunities.

For instance, I love to travel but can only do so on a budget. But there are other opportunities abroad that are paid for, like nannying, working in a hostel, or seasonal farming. These jobs are not careers I would do forever, but they would be rewarding as a young tourist.

I also believe taking a gap year could have given me a better understanding of my long-term career plans.

I went into my freshman year as a journalism and mass communications major because I was active in my high school yearbook. I understand the world better because of my majors, but I don’t feel any more confident in what I want to do long-term than I did as a freshman.

Taking a gap year — or multiple years — would have given me more time to consider what path to pursue. Who knows, I could have ended up doing something completely different with my life.

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.



Over the last few years, taking a gap year has become much more common. Whether it is because of the pandemic or to take time for mental health, many students have decided to put a pause on their education.

While I understand the motivation behind this action, I believe taking a gap year is a mistake.

When a student stops their education for any reason, it can become incredibly easy to lose academic momentum. Approximately 10 percent of students who take a gap year do not return to school.

This might seem like a relatively low statistic. But out of those 90 percent who do return, these students are half as likely to  graduate with a bachelor’s degree than their peers who did not take a gap year.

One explanation for this is that students can lose the routines they have followed for the past 13 years. After spending practically our whole lives in school, there are many conscious and unconscious habits we have built into our brains that allow us to succeed.

After taking a full year off, these habits might get lost lost. This means returning to writing papers and taking tests might be more of a shock than the student expected.

On a monetary note, when a student takes a gap year, it often affects their financial aid standing. A student who takes a gap year is 5 percent less likely to receive any kind of financial aid.

Past this, a student who has taken a gap year and returns to school is estimated to receive an average of $2,500 fewer financial aid dollars than other students, according to Saving For College.

Overall, there are many factors to consider about taking a gap year. It is important to make sure it is not a decision you will regret.

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.


The Daily Iowan • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in