Is a gap year the best financial choice for high school grads?

No more school, no more books, and no more teachers telling you to put that phone away during class! But is going to university straight out of high school the best move for students in this economy?

Canadian high schoolers might be better off taking a year between high school and post-secondary, opting to work, save money and experience a little fun and freedom before committing to years of shoestring student living. 

  • Gap years buy young people time to figure out their career trajectory so they don’t waste years studying something they aren’t interested in. 

  • And once they hit the books, those who take a gap year complete their education in less time, a perk of going back to school with more life experience.

Why it’s happening: Teens are graduating in an uncertain economy where inflation has made everything more expensive, especially the three major student spending areas: Tuition, rent and food. 

  • “Young people are becoming more aware of the finances associated with post-secondary and the reality that they’re growing up in,” Michelle Dittmer, co-founder of the Canadian Gap Year Association, told the Toronto Star.

If you (or a young scholar in your life) does decide to take a gap year, here’s how to get the most out of it:

  • Find a job you think you might like. Take the opportunity to dip your toes into the field you’re considering. Want to be a doctor? See if you can get an entry-level job at a hospital or clinic to get a sense of the environment you’d be working in.

  • Volunteer with an organization in your potential field. This is a great way to make some professional connections without any credentials. If you want to be a city planner, volunteer with your municipality’s heritage board. 

  • Learn a new skill or hobby. Learning is a lifelong adventure, so take the time away from mandatory readings to explore non-school-based learning. Pick a craft or hobby and let your passion lead for a while

  • Travel somewhere new. It could be another province or another continent, but the point is getting a fresh perspective since you’ve been stuck in high school for four years.

Bottom line: A gap year is an excellent option for students who want to build up their bank accounts and head into post-secondary in a better financial position.