As I approach the end of my college career, I cannot stop myself from thinking that I am not anywhere near the end of my education. The fact of the matter is, master’s degrees are well worth the investment. Northeastern University reports that master’s degrees result in substantially higher salaries (roughly a 20% increase compared to bachelor’s degrees) and provide more job options. Higher education levels result in higher job satisfaction. So if you want to make more money, have better job opportunities and be happier with your career, a master’s degree is probably for you.
Another benefit of a higher education degree is that they simply give you more time to figure things out. If you are lucky enough to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in something you still care about, then graduate school gives you the opportunity to dive even deeper into that, and for those that graduate college still having no idea what they want to do, a master’s degree gives them the opportunity of more time to figure it out. More students are catching on to the benefits of master’s degrees; according to Rachel Fenton from PNPI.org, the number of students who enroll in graduate programs has been steadily increasing over recent years.
Now that the benefits of a master’s degree have been laid out, I’m here to say that students should take their time getting there. College students have spent the last 16 years of their life in school, and it would do many of them a world of good to take a break. It provides the opportunity to clear one’s head and relax for a little while.
The term “gap year” can be scary. Here in the United States, it can carry a negative connotation, but research shows that taking time off between undergraduate and graduate school is actually quite helpful. While the term might evoke an image of constant relaxation, sleeping in and no responsibilities, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it is a break, it is a break with a purpose.
The University of Vermont’s (UVM) career center actually suggests taking a gap year. The university explains that gap years are really just more practical; they give you time to save money and start thinking and behaving like an adult, things that just aren’t always possible during undergrad. The UVM career center also notes that taking time off can solidify students’ desire for education.
It is also important to consider that graduate school applications take a lot of time and each one is specific to the school to which one is applying to. Applicants have to take entrance exams, request letters of recommendation, create a personal statement and find programs that fit their goals. In an article for Neuronline.org, Rahul Patel agrees with the idea of taking time to apply to graduate programs, saying, “while a seamless transition may be appealing, it’s important to consider the strength of your application with respect to your target programs and schools.”
Julia Rogers is the founder of Enroute Consulting, a firm that provides students with gap year support. She explains on gograd.org that a gap year is a period of time devoted to identifying and reaching personal goals and that “even if the goal is relaxing and decompressing, it should be a deliberate period of time.”
A gap year provides you with time. Time to perfect applications, become an adult, travel, rest, solidify your desire for education or find out what it is you even want to do. There is no need to continue rushing through life, take your time and do whatever you can to make life better for yourself. Taking a gap year before even more years of rigorous work and education is a great way to do this.