Gap Years For College Students Can Increase Job Prospects, Study Shows

I’ve posted in the past about why 2020 may be the perfect year to take a year off from college. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school isn’t taking a traditional route, and going off course for a year can help preserve the coveted college experience that high school seniors look forward to.

But is it possible that a gap year can also make you more hirable? A recent study by College Finance suggests it does.

The current perception of gap years

A survey of over 1,000 college students, graduates and hiring managers gave a few interesting insights into how people perceive taking a year off school.

According to the survey, 78% of students who took a gap year felt it was beneficial to clarifying what they wanted to do in their life. This not only saved them that year’s tuition bill, but potentially saved countless dollars and time spent focusing on the wrong major or chasing the wrong career path.

Of the students surveyed, 31% believed that gap years should be mandatory. The most common ways people spent their gap years (colloquially referred to as “gap-tivities”) were gaining experience either through internships or jobs in their desired field or spending time traveling or with family.

While most students who took a gap year reported positive experiences, those who did not were more likely to be satisfied with their college experiences.

Does it help you get a job?

When applying for jobs, it pays to stand out—literally. 

67% of hiring managers believed it was beneficial for students and recent graduates to take a gap year amid the pandemic, and 80% believed it was important for personal growth. More than a fifth of hiring managers even reported they were more likely to hire a candidate who had taken a gap year, and 19% said they would offer higher compensation to those candidates.

It’s not all fun and games

While a lot of people think of a gap year as time spent exploring the world, that’s not necessarily the path to employment. The majority of hiring managers surveyed preferred candidates who spent their gap year completing an internship program or volunteering over other common gap-tivities such as traveling or learning a new language.

Why does a gap year matter?

While the way you spend your gap year can vary—and the opinion of each hiring manager who sees your resume can differ—the survey did show that hiring managers felt that “gappers” often had three positive traits that would help them in their career: confidence, self-awareness and well roundedness.

The lesson:

The coronavirus has undeniably changed what we have always deemed as “normal.” So why should we continue a “normal” education path? Taking time to find your passions, study yourself and lay a foundation for your future can make a huge difference in not only the type of employee you become, but the type of person you grow into.  

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regards to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Brotman Financial Group, Inc. and BFG Financial Advisors are not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS.

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