The Influence of a Gap Year on the Academic and Social Mindset of Higher Education Students
This paper reports on the perceptions of a group of students who went on a gap year on various aspects of their gap year experience. The research approach was qualitative. Data was gathered by means of 21 interviews. From the findings it became clear that matriculants mainly decide to take a gap year because they are uncertain about what they want to study, want to earn money or simply want to take a break from studying. The research also showed that a gap year can help determine students' choice of a field of study or career to follow in a variety of ways. It also indicated that a gap year may influence students' academic and social adjustment to life at university, in various ways. On a social level, students integrate more easily after a gap year, because they have learnt how to work with diverse people during their gap year. Although some students have difficulty studying again after a year or two, those who do tend to be much more motivated and focused with the result that they tend to work very hard to make up for the time lost during their gap year(s).
Keywords: Gap Year, Higher Education Students, Study and Career Choice, Academic and Social Adjustment at University
Prof. Marietha Nieman
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies