Should I Take A Gap Before Grad School? (FAQs)9 min read

The thought of embarking on another academic journey immediately after completing an undergraduate degree program is always frightening to many students.

However, while many students prefer to take a gap year before grad school, some prefer to go with the flow and further their education immediately.

Taking a gap year before grad school has its own advantages and disadvantages.

This article will do well to discuss the pros and cons that must be considered prior to taking a step either way.

What is a Gap Year?

Gap years are academic breaks. It’s a time to find yourself and decide on a job and schooling.

A gap year is flexible. You might work, volunteer, or travel. It is a sabbatical from a job or school to pursue personal improvement through travel and experiential learning.

It’s similar to a sabbatical, except it’s not utilized to study or publish a book.

What is a Grad School?

Grad school is a postgraduate institution that awards master’s and doctoral degrees. Before applying to graduate school, you must usually hold a bachelor’s degree.

More so, graduate schools are institutions that grant advanced degrees, with the usual prerequisite being the completion of an undergraduate program.

Advantages of Taking a Gap Year Before Grad School

Taking a yearlong break before grad school offers the following advantages:

1. Prevents burnout

Taking a yearlong break from academic work is a great idea.

It prevents you from burning out from the stress that comes with instantly jumping from undergraduate school straight to grad school.

After you have dedicated most of your last three to four years or so, to enrolling in an undergraduate degree program, your brain will probably require a rest.

So, taking some time off will enable you to recharge your batteries and probably refuel your energy levels, which will enable you to perform at a high level when you begin your graduate school studies.

2. Obtain valuable work experience

Taking a gap year before going to grad school offers you the perfect opportunity to acquire valuable work experience.

It does not matter whether you are engaged in an unpaid internship or you are working for a big firm; taking a year before going to grad school allows you to do a job that will increase your knowledge of the field and boost your skills.

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Moreover, having an in-depth knowledge of your field of study is one thing that would give you an advantage over other candidates when applying to any grad school.

This is because most grad schools always look forward to admitting students that have gained a good level of professional experience.

3. Save enough money for grad school

If you do not have money to fund your studies at grad school, taking a gap before embarking on grad school is actually advisable because it will help to save a lot of money to bankroll your grad school education.

This is also a great idea because it prevents you from putting yourself under the unnecessary pressure that comes with doing many jobs while schooling at the same time.

If you have saved more than enough, you can even go as far as quitting your job to enable you to focus on your education very well.

Should I Take A Gap Before Grad School?

4. Facilitates effective preparation

Taking a gap before grad school gives you time to prepare yourself effectively for the challenges of grad school.

Taking a year off before grad school will allow you to establish plans and tactics for overcoming any academic obstacles you may have.

5. Assess your options

Taking some time off instead of jumping into grad school directly from undergrad school enables you to assess your options and find out if a master’s degree is needed for you to achieve your goals or not.

If it is not, you can look for alternatives to grad school that will enable you to achieve your ambitions.

6. Explore several career options

Not jumping into grad school immediately after you graduate from an undergrad school offers you the opportunity to learn about the areas of specialization in your chosen career that are most fulfilling.

Sometimes, you might even get interested in a certain area, which could change your plans for the future.

Disadvantages of taking a gap before Grad School

Even though taking a break before high school is a good idea, here are its disadvantages:

1. Loss of enthusiasm

Taking a break before going to grad school is a terrible idea because you may lose motivation to get back to school at the end of the year-long break.

Moreover, taking a break to rest could actually distract you from your future ambitions and make you lazy about achieving them.

Jumping from undergrad school straight to grad school enables you to gain the momentum you need to achieve your goals.

If you start making a lot of money in a job that you took up during the break, you may likely dash the idea of enrolling in grad school, which will not enable you to pursue your academic ambitions.

2. Elongates your academic journey

Taking a break before going to graduate school will make it take you longer to finish your education and keep you from getting the credentials you need to get your dream job.

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Important things to know before starting grad school

Here are some of the most important pieces of advice that you need to know before you begin grad school.

1. Identify the motivation behind your choice of the graduate degree program.

Before enrolling in any program at grad school, ensure that you identify the motivations behind your decision to enrol in it.

In other words, define the reasons why you intend to enrol in graduate school.

This will enable you to decide on the research opportunities that you will be involved in and also the professional development prospects that you will take part in.

2. Obtain documentation

Before you think of applying to any grad school, ensure that you have all the required documentation for admission in place.

Grad schools normally require transcripts of every program that you have ever enrolled in when processing your admission, including the ones that didn’t award you any credentials.

So, before you apply, get all of these things ready and make sure you carefully check the school’s admission requirements for the program you want to attend weeks ahead of when the application is open so you can gather them on time.

3. Obtain letters of recommendations

From our research, it is clear that all grad schools always require letters of recommendation from applicants as part of the requirements to process their admission.

Thus, check the admission requirements of the school on their website for the profile of the referees meant to write the letters and inform them long before the application opens that you need them to write you a letter of recommendation.

However, ensure that you request your letters of recommendation from people that have good knowledge of you.

Moreover, check the website of the school very well for rules on recommendation letter drafting and provide your referee with all the needed information about yourself.

4. Approach your potential supervisors

Visit the school’s website and search for the names of the faculty members in your preferred course of study.

Once you find them, search for some of their work online and approach the ones that have research interests similar to yours.

When you get to their audience, inform them that you would like to partner with them on completing particular research in their chosen area of research if you are admitted.

If they assent to your proposal, do well to mention in your statement of purpose or motivation letter that you are planning to work with that faculty member on a particular research project.

This will give you an edge over other applicants.

5. Make a plan for funding your education

It is critical that you have a clear plan in place for how you will pay for your education before applying to any graduate school.

From your tuition costs to other fees like accommodation costs, ensure that you have more than enough money to handle all of them or an agreement with the bank somehow that will enable you to cater for all these expenses without putting your trust in scholarships or grants.

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6. Self-motivation is key

Almost all graduate schools do not provide student advisory resources.

So, make sure you always do things that will keep you motivated and give you the drive to do well in school.

7. Ensure you send a complete application

Grad schools only consider candidates that submit complete application documents to them.

Thus, before sending in an application, double-check it and ensure that nothing is missing. Before you send it to the school, you should proofread your personal statement or motivation letter and fix any mistakes.

8. Grab every opportunity for professional development with both hands

Grad school always offers numerous opportunities for professional development beyond what is offered in undergrad school.

Thus, leverage the workshops, events, seminars, and other activities that are organized for you and your colleagues to boost your abilities, network with industry professionals and create good and highly beneficial relationships with faculty members.

Frequently Asked Questions on Gap Before Grad School

What is meant by grad school?

Grad school is a postgraduate institution that awards master’s and doctoral degrees. Before applying to graduate school, you must usually hold a bachelor’s degree.

Is grad school the same as college?

A graduate degree is more specialized than an undergraduate degree and more clearly related to a career path.

How difficult is a master’s degree?

Earning a master’s degree is typically more challenging than earning a bachelor’s. However, if you really want to advance your professional and personal prospects, nothing beats enrolling in a graduate program.

Is getting a master’s worth it?

Master’s degree holders have a far lower unemployment rate and earn around $240 more per week than bachelor’s degree holders, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The combination of transferable credits and applicable work/life experience can reduce tuition costs and accelerate the time it takes to complete a degree program.

Conclusion

Taking a gap before grad school is a decision that is hard for anyone to make.

Despite the fact that taking a gap before going to gap school will allow you to refresh for the next phase of your academic journey, you can easily lose motivation as a result.

No matter when you go to graduate school, though, you can be successful if you organize yourself well, learn to manage your time well, and stick to a strict study schedule. 

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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