The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year - Cam Sylvester on Gap Year Decision Day


CBC Radio interview

Cam Sylvester explains to Stephen Quinn on CBC that the end of the school year is a time when a majority of graduating high school students are preparing for their next steps to higher education and developing a career. What many don't realize is that there is another option, one that has the potential to increase their success not only at university, but also in their own personal development and future career path. 

As Stephen says, taking a gap year has been increasing in popularity over the years. Steve Jobs did it way back when, and young people like Malia Obama are doing it now, especially since more and more universities are recommending and supporting gap years for students. 

So why take a gap year? What is so great about them? 

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Most concerns revolve around the myth that students who take gap years don't end up going back to university, or don't end up going at all. Gap years are still controversial because of the belief that students need to take the fast track to university in order to succeed. However, research done through multiple universities and the Gap Year Association shows that gap year students do better in their first year of university across the board. University students find gap years appealing, as many get partway through their studies only to find it is not the right fit for them. Gap years provide a new opportunity to discover their passion.  

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Cam explains how graduating students are often encouraged by parents, counsellors and teachers to head directly into post-secondary education, and even references his own children's experiences. High school students have little time to make key decisions about their career and life path and the pressure to make the right choice can be stressful. That's where gap years come in. They allow students to take a breather after high school, giving young adults time to figure out who they are, where they want to go and what they want to do.

Cam tells Stephen that the outcome is often the most important part to a great gap year. Navigating it depends on the individual, but completing it with a sense of where you want to go, feeling comfortable in your own skin, strength and confidence in your own capacity and aspect of humility about your abilities are all things to expect from a successful gap year. 

Lattitude is working to change the culture around gap years, encouraging students, parents and teachers alike to celebrate taking a gap year the same way they would in receiving a scholarship, graduating from high school and getting accepted into a university. This is a great way to show students that taking a gap year is a legitimate option, especially for students that didn't do as well in high school and need the time to decide on their next step.