Essay on the Effects of Gap-Year Participation on Academic Performance

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Vanderbilt University
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A gap year in education refers to the pattern that is exhibited in many educational systems where students enroll in higher education a year or two after the completion of high school education. This framework is applicable in many countries, and it is continually becoming more common in many countries. It is applied as a transition point between completion of schooling and the commencement of university degree (Curtis, 2014). This approach has dramatically influenced the nature of study programs and at the labor market. There exist various reasons as to why this gap taking is seen as essential in multiple countries.

In Australia, for example, the gap is influenced dramatically by the availability of youth allowance payments and the youth allowance workforce independence criteria. This means that the students are capable of applying for independent status within this period and thus qualifying for youth allowance payments (Curtis, 2014). In most cases, gap year period assists students to undertake activities such as traveling, volunteering and work. This time is also used in the looking for financial support and money to support students through education. In other cases, it helps build a resume in a planned career through experience gained through volunteering in community services. "Gap taking results to both the public and private benefits and depends on the activities undertaken." (Curtis, 2012). Various skills can be learned through volunteering such as leadership, interpersonal skills, communication and organizational skills. These add up to employability skills and later influence the labor market outcomes.

In addition a gap year is as a result of the need to break the monotony. This period prepares the students to a life of self-directing and maturity. Following a gap year, people have shown an improvement in the employability skills, performance outcomes, career choices formation and a substantial gain of a variety of life skills. This paper seeks to analyze the effects of participating in gap year on academic performance. The paper considers various factors that affect performance through the analysis of research papers.

Motivation and Achievement

In the gap year period students and workers participate in various activities and some cases utterly unrelated to their current occupation, this gives time to reflect on the steps that have been undertaken in the development of the long-term goals such as career development. This move acts as a motivating factor and helps people to keep going to achieve their objectives (Baikk et al., 2015). With motivation from gap year activities, individuals are better placed to choose a course of action that result in a positive outcome. In this perspective, motive underpins various characteristics which are individual choice of work, level of participation, individuals persistence and performance in the area of involvement. When an individual is motivated an effect occurring from the gap period operation, they are in a position to perform better. This has been proven that when students take a break between high school and university studies, then the activities they engage in such as traveling or work appears to motive them for the next review. Motivation operationalization involves cognitive and behavioral factors that affect adaptive dimensions such as goals, values, and self-regulation (Baikk et al., 2015). The failure or low achievements with students who are always around institution is attributed to the lack of post-school certainty.

Students Background and Performance

Statistics suggest different reasons as to why students need a gap year. These ideas also affect the performance of the students. These are factors such as; monetary influences, impairment, disability, medical condition et cetera. These conditions mean that the narrative of better performance with deferment does not hold since other factors affecting studies come to play. In this perspective, the gap period may not always result in positive development. The motivation that leads to excellence, in this case, may not solely depend on the gap period initiatives as the relationship of deferment and students score is represented as strong negative. The origin of students also affects the performance (Lyons et al., 2012). According to statistics on university enrolment, immigrant students perform better than the native students even after undergoing the gap year experiences.

Gap Year and Personal Development

Employer satisfaction with the current state of affairs has been a measure of performance. In many occurrences, employers are interested in gapers due to the variety of skills that they possess. According to the community service volunteers, 79 percent students with soft skills from gap year experiences were suited to various jobs in the year 2002. The association of graduate recruiters asserts that the lessons from gap year period go a long way in influencing future careers. Through content analysis these advantages are enumerated as; provision of self-reflection opportunity, self-development, high levels of maturity and the acquisition of soft skills (Curtis, Mlotkowski and Lumsden, 2012). These experiences have been described to enhance decision making among the students. Therefore, the gap-year students have a competitive advantage than the other students. An economy of expertise is exhibited from the fact that the occupations that the students undertake contribute differently to the required skills and abilities. Only a well-structured and purposeful occupation leads to the economy of experience and should be tailored in the best manner since the experience cannot be repeated (Harmer and Rogerson, 2017).

Those students that take gap year returning to studies after a year according to the American gap association have better general performance that those students who do not take the breaks (Sue, 2007).

Academic Burnout

Gap year helps in the breaking the study monotony, and therefore the student can address challenges within the system such as financial problems, career development and get a sense relaxation. The students can engage in the non-educational process and thus learn more experimentally (Heath, 2007). This period has also been used to develop skills which are crucial to the job market. Developmental activities if adopted by students during this period are crucial in the elimination of post-school uncertainty and helps in behavioral development which is exhibited as maturity and influences good performance (Jamieson and Jamieson, 2014).

Gap Year and Consistency

This period enables a student to focus on their strengths by evaluating their success in the current courses. In this perspective, students can focus on their career path with a good understanding of the labor market. Reflection may mean re-imagination of ones role in the world that places that at a better level. This may mean changing ones major to more comfortable areas based on experience (Curtis, Mlotkowski and Lumsden, 2012). This occurs in the same manner where students are enrolled in part-time studies. In this sense, the students can relate their major with the current state of affairs which affect their motivation in the areas of education affecting their performance positively.

Despite the argument on wasting students time, gap years enhance the students dedication to their studies by dealing with fears and challenges within the study course. Post education exposure goes a long way in influencing their behavior since students are clear minded.

Financial Considerations and Integration Challenges

In many cases, gap year experiences are unrealistic and result to declining academic trend (Rose & Miller, 2007). In a case where individuals take a gap year due to financial constraints, the immediate action the student is engaged in determines their academic performance. Volunteering, in this case, is not the best option and challenges and debts of upkeep affect the students through the entire study period (Heath, 2007). This occurs since instead of money in banks students report back with credit card debts due to the amount of money spent during the gap year. In this case, the gap year experience is unrealistic and does not influence the academic performance positively. In other sense, a student resuming studies with their junior feel misplaced and requires much time to adjust. This occurs both as an advantage and a disadvantage in the long run. It is an advantage since it eliminates chances of peer activities and thus leading to an apparent study mission. On the other hand, reintegration with other earlier colleagues becomes hard, and issues of loneliness may cause a drop in the overall performance.

Considerations and Challenges

Gap years have various considerations that affect academic performance negatively. In many cases, gap year that does not yield intended objectives is a waste of time (Martin, 2010). This, therefore, means that students find themselves a year behind college mates. This aspect could go a long way in affecting studies and more so if the intended purpose of the gap was not realized. In this way, the individual remains a junior to former friends. Additionally, taking gap year may result in psychological problems. An example is an anxiety to get back to the familiar environment and focus on more life fulfilling endeavors. Working in a volunteer organization while colleagues are working on their graduation may be an excellent source of regret. Taking a gap year is always a risk, and the experience does not in any way relate to brain development. After the period the student may find themselves in the same previous condition they were unable to sail through. It occurs more to an initiative of postponing problems rather than dealing with challenges amicably. A gap year taken as a vacation may not be beneficial in the long run. This is since the experience within the year must be described lifetime experience as required in American Gap Association. The background is a full-time occupation and can be stressful depending on the operations. This means that the exposure may result in more pressure on academics leading a decline in the overall score.


Gap years taken for the correct purposes have had more benefits on the individuals (Parker et al., 2015). These include personal development which influences motivation to the learning process. These myriads of benefits include; increased maturity, a greater understanding of the labor market, developing soft skills which enable employability, increased self-awareness, greater global awareness, self-confidence et cetera. According to statistics, students completing gap years are more satisfied with their career (Lyons et al., 2012). This arises from the fact that these individuals have a better understanding of their purpose in life and hence they usually embark on their potentials.


Baik, C., Naylor, R. and Arkoudis, S., 2015. The First Year Experience in Australian Universities: Findings from Two Decades, 1994-2014. Centre for the Study of Higher Education.

Curtis, D.D., 2014. The Gap Yearin Australia: Incidence, participant characteristics andoutcomes. Australian Economic Review, 47(1), pp.107-114.Curtis, D.D., Mlotkowski, P. and Lumsden, M., 2012. Bridging the Gap: Who Takes a Gap Yearand Why? Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth. Research Report. National Centrefor Vocational Education Research Ltd. PO Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA5000, Australia.Harmer, D. and Rogerson, J.M., 2017. Gap year tourism: International debates, South African issues. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, 6(1), pp.1-11.

Heath, S., 2007. Widening the gap: Preuniversity gap ye...

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