As the school year starts, grade 12’s are hit with the reality of life after high school and for many that’s the pressure of going to university. What’s your major? Where are you going? How are you going to afford it? All very common questions. But there is an even more important question than those: are you going straight into university?

In Canada, only 30% of students took a break of more than four months between high school and post-secondary institution. But there are, in fact, many reasons as to why a gap year could benefit a student. According to Joe O’Shea, who wrote a book showing the benefits of a gap year, many schools report that student who take a gap year have a higher grade point average than students who go straight into post-secondary.

Aside from academic reasons, a lot of people who take a gap year chose to either travel or work for the year. Traveling is an easy way to find your passion, which can help figure out what you really want to do for a future career. Many students focus on one area to study and later realize it’s not exactly what they want, essentially wasting a year or more of schooling. Working for a gap year is also a very common thing students do. Not only is it a way to make more money, making school more financially capable, it also is a way to have a true understanding of what working full time is like. Lots of young adults, after working for a year, come to the realization they do not want to be working full time in a job that they are not passionate about, only pushing them to find something they could see themselves doing for the rest of their lives.

A year off doesn’t seem like a long time, but that one year can completely change your perspective. Traveling, working and volunteering during a gap year can all benefit you and your decision on post-secondary. With more experiences, your opinions and interests may change. If a student goes straight into university, she may realize half way through that it isn’t meant for them, or they just might not be ready. Many students end up doing one or two years at university and then taking a gap year.

According to the American Gap Association, students who take a gap year are 90% more likely to return to university within one year. Essentially, students who take a gap year are more likely to attend post-secondary than people who don’t take a gap year. Taking a gap year could completely change your post-secondary experience. Before deciding whether or not you’re going to go right into university, consider the options you have.