During the uncertainty of the global pandemic, does taking a gap year remain a good idea? 


It is estimated that normally around 230,000 students take a gap year before attending university – this has risen exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the uncertainty surrounding teaching and lockdowns. Gap years can offer young people the chance to gain experiences, both in work and leisure such as travel, before entering university. However, due to covid related cancellations and restrictions, the usual appeals of a gap year may be harder to organize and benefit from, so do they remain valuable during these unprecedented times? 


When speaking with a current gap year student, who plans to study medicine at university in the next academic year, the advantages of taking a year out became clear. The student said the highlight of the gap year was visiting New York city and witnessing the sunset in Manhattan. This highlights an important part of a gap year – with many using the time to explore and experience new places and cultures, thus earning a broader understanding of the world and the diversity of the people in it. He also enjoyed gaining experience as a waiter at a local restaurant, commenting that “it’s nice to earn your own money and work as part of a team again”. By taking a gap year, he has been able to save some money whilst gaining experience of working full time. The student also argued that taking a gap year “gives you more time for the things you’ve been putting off or didn’t have time for before because of exams” which has helped him to develop a passion for art and drawing during his time off studying.  


However, a drawback of the gap year is that it puts you a year behind those at the same school year as you at university, which this student stated had made him oftentimes isolated and it has been “very difficult to maintain friendships with people at university”. Nevertheless, he describes this as one of the only main challenges, and overall, still believes he made the right decision in taking the year out, despite the uncertainty surrounding his work and travel plans due to covid as well and says he would have done it again. 


In conclusion, a gap year can provide memorable experiences that aid students entering the workplace and allow them to explore and expand their interests by taking time out of study to work, travel, and discover - so ultimately, despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the gap year still remains a beneficial choice for students.