Gap Year: Is It Time To Normalize It?

Last Updated on: September 18, 2023

TL;DR – A gap year is a period in which a student will take a gap in the traditional education setup, like college, in exchange for experiential learning and immersion.

For many Filipinos, taking a whole year off after high school is unthinkable. They assume it is a wasted year if they don’t go directly into college, which is understandable with our current educational norm.

Another issue about taking a year off is the feeling of being left out, especially the idea that your friends will graduate ahead of you. 

However, there are times when we need to rest and discover what we really want to pursue in college. This is where a gap year comes in handy. 

What is a Gap Year?

Man Using A Gap Year
Photo By Ady April On

According to, a gap year is a semester or year of experiential learning. Typically, after high school and before career or post-secondary education, to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.

I first heard this term from an interview with a millennial farmer who took a year off before entering college. During his gap year, he interned on a farm in a nearby province to learn more about the industry’s skills and opportunities.

I found it interesting and intriguing since a gap year may seem absurd for many of us. It also means we are “stopping” our education, which can embarrass others.

However, I realized that it is also important to rest before going into college. Many high school graduates enroll in courses they don’t like because they think they will waste their time if they don’t. Only to shift to another course the following semester because the prior degree they took is “not for them.”

If we can integrate gap years, students can take a sabbatical from formal education and learn from informal modes. Through this gap year, they can learn practical skills and knowledge and even identify what they want to do.

After all, as long as we are learning, we are not wasting time. 

Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

  1. Students can take a rest from the stress of senior high school.
  2. Students can decide what major they genuinely want to pursue without being pressured.
  3. Students can learn practical life skills by working and engaging through volunteerism, internships, or personal projects.

The Reality of Privilege of Taking a Gap Year

I know that taking a gap year will not be an option for everyone because of the possible financial burden of not enrolling soon in a free-tuition college. 

But the current educational structure is changing. We are slowly approaching a period where degrees will matter less, and experience and know-how will emerge more significant.

For parents, you should consider giving your children the gap year option, especially if they are still unsure what to take in college. As long as they are productive, they are not wasting time.

You may enroll them in vocational schools or allow them to learn from other trades that interest them.

For students, a gap year is not a waste of time as long as you learn something. You need to understand that there are lessons that cannot be taught in school, and there are skills best learned through hands-on experience.

One year off from school can be life-changing if you use it right. You may discover your passion or spark other interests.

A Gap Year in Time of a Pandemic

With many people calling out educational institutions for an academic freeze, a gap year can be a viable option for students who have difficulty adjusting to the new normal.

It may be a year off from college to help students discover some things they want to do.

My Experience with Career Gap

I did not take a gap year, maybe if I had been aware of it before entering college, I might have used it to learn more about agriculture. I wouldn’t have enrolled in nursing before shifting courses, which, in essence, is almost the same as a gap year.

After college, I had two separate six-month periods when I was unemployed. Though it can be frustrating looking for a job, those career breaks were essential in building my other life skills like writing and personal finance.

Final Thought

We need a more holistic approach to education – something beyond what schools can offer. We need to normalize and remove the stigma of students taking a year off from school. 

It may not be the default education route. However, it still offers valuable insights into real life, which will be useful in the future.

It would be better for students to have the time to decide what they want to be and not be pressured to enter college. In my opinion, being clueless about what degree to take and only to shift the following semester is more wasteful.

Let us give younger people the freedom to choose their career paths. It would be better to feel lost going into college than enter a quarter-life crisis.

3 thoughts on “Gap Year: Is It Time To Normalize It?”

  1. You list important personal benefits from taking a gap year, but there is also the societal benefit to be considered. Young people taking a year to live in places and listen to people not from their walk of life can help integrate the country, and indeed the world, if we found a way to subsidize a shared Gap year exchange program. Empathy and greater knowledge, thus understanding, of the needs of other parts of the country/world, and of different communities, enhance the work of becoming an adult ready to help take on the responsibilities of living in a democratic society, hopefully?
    Best regards,

    • That is very true, Shira. Aside from personal benefits come societal benefits. However, our country (the Philippines) is still very far behind the idea of the gap year because of cultural norms of not “getting left behind” in school.

      I suppose we can slowly incorporate the gap year into the formal curriculum. Still, it will take some time before the families on the fringes of society will realize that formal education is only one part of the holistic development of an individual.

      Through this blog, I hope to be an agent of change that will empower the future generation to grow with empathy and better understanding. Thank you for your input, Shira. Have a nice day!

      • Thank YOU, dear fellow change agent: I hope to do likewise, and I hope that we can help each other to do so via our blogs here.
        Take care and stay safe,


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