A growing number of students are choosing to skip one or two years before they begin their Masters degree. This is known as a gap year. The purpose of gap years is to provide students with a well-needed break from their hard academic studies and to allow them to pursue their other passions, interests, and desires. But there are a number of pros and cons to consider before choosing to take a gap year. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of opting to take a gap year before pursuing a Masters degree.

PRO: You can gain work experience and earn some money.

A major pro of taking a gap year is the opportunity to gain work experience in your field of interest. Not to mention that saving money for your future academic endeavours is easier when you don’t have to study at the same time. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to use your gap year to work and save money for living expenses while attending university for your Masters degree. It will certainly take a huge financial burden off your shoulders.

If, for some reason, you are not able to work but you still really want to gain experience in your field, volunteering is another good option that you can benefit from during your gap year. That is a unique opportunity that should not be missed, and you will even find that some universities provide volunteer gap year programmes designed specifically for people in your position.

CON: If you want to travel, gap years can be expensive.

If you’re planning to travel during your gap year, depending on your destination and the duration of your trip, it's very likely your expenses will increase rapidly. Therefore, failing to plan and organise your gap year well would undoubtedly have an impact on your savings. So, if you’re in any way concerned about funds, you need to ask yourself whether travelling during your gap year will be a wise investment for you.

PRO: It gives you time to pursue other hobbies, interests, and passions.

Another pro of taking a gap year is the chance to explore personal hobbies, interests, and passions. Taking a year-long break from your studies gives you the chance to reflect on what you really love to do. You could dedicate your time to pursuing hobbies that are often neglected in favour of studying; as a result, you might even discover that you want to go down a totally different path.

CON: You risk losing your academic momentum.

One of the biggest worries students have when thinking about taking a gap year from university is that they will lose their academic momentum and struggle to pick up where they left off.

This is a valid concern, as a gap year can negatively affect the rhythm and discipline necessary for success. Without consistent engagement, it is natural to expect a certain degree of decline in the acquired knowledge and skills.

PRO: Life experience can make you better prepared for university.

In all honesty, taking a gap year has the potential to teach you unique life lessons that you wouldn’t be able to learn in a classroom. This is particularly true if you decide to spend your gap year travelling, as you will surely acquire the skills necessary to live and work on your own.

Moreover, a gap year can foster personal development and the acquisition of valuable skills. During this time, individuals can focus on personal growth, self-reflection, and developing essential life skills such as time management and problem-solving, which are highly valuable in any professional setting.

CON: You will be a year behind.

For many people, this can be a particularly big con. You’ll need to consider the fact that many of your close friends and colleagues will already be well ahead of you with regards to university education. Furthermore, skipping a year can extend the duration of an already potentially long education process, and that can result in you missing out on an early start in your career.

PRO: You can avoid burnout.

Your brain may need some rest following years of intense study for a Bachelor's degree. If you're experiencing signs of burnout, your mental health will likely benefit from a break before applying for a Masters degree. In fact, a 2020 study shows that taking time off can noticeably improve your academic performance later on. So, if you want to re-enter university feeling refreshed and refocused, you may want to consider this opinion.

CON: Taking a gap year is a risk.

Taking a gap year is, like most things in life, risky for many reasons. You could be risking everything and so much more, but ultimately, it's up to you. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that taking a gap year, regardless of the results, will be life-changing.

PRO: A gap year can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to make the most of your time away from the hustle of everyday life. Especially if you spend it travelling, it will be far more difficult to find opportunities to travel this much for such a long time in the future.

Here are some different opinions from young people who decided to take a gap year:

What's your opinion regarding taking a gap year after college but before a Masters?

If you can afford it and you plan to spend the year doing something constructive, I would do it.

I worked full-time for several years between my two degrees. It was a great decision. By the time I went to get my Masters, I had (a) changed my mind about what kind of MA I wanted to get and (b) developed a strong focus for exactly what I wanted to get out of my studies.

In contrast, many of my fresh-out-of-college peers in grad school were there because of vague ideas that it was expected of them or would be helpful in the future, without being clear on their goals. If you know why you are there and have had time to truly articulate what you want to get out of the programme, it will be a much better experience.

Sarah Bronson

Is it good to take a 1-year gap before doing your Masters degree?

It depends on multiple factors. It depends on what you do during that gap. It depends what your major is. Most importantly, it depends upon how certain you are regarding which Masters degree you want to get.

Personally, I took a gap between getting my Bachelor’s degree and getting my Masters degree. I think that this gap helped me a lot. It helped me decide precisely what Masters degree I wanted to get. It allowed me to better understand the value of the particular Masters that I wanted to get. When I returned to university after taking a gap, I was a better student. I think that this can be true for many students, but it will not be true for every student.

Ross Callon

In conclusion, taking a gap year before pursuing a Masters degree offers both pros and cons. And you just need to decide whether this opportunity will be a once-in-a lifetime advantage for you in the long run or a rather pricey disadvantage.