A Gap Period: What Is It and How Does It Impact the Chances of Studying Abroad?

A Gap Period: What Is It and How Does It Impact the Chances of Studying Abroad?

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Are there any study abroad programs for college students that don't consider gap periods negatively? The article answers all questions connected to gap year!

Yogender Panchal
Updated on:  12 Sep 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 28.9K | 4  min read


For many students, the question ‘what will be the effect of a gap period for abroad studies’ never arises. But there are quite a few who would need this crucial question answered. The major concern for them is ‘do I stand a chance of being admitted to XYZ school because I have a gap in my studies? In this article, we answer the most common questions related to gap years and how they impact education overseas. 

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What Are the Types of Gap Periods?

Before diving further into how a gap period impacts your odds of getting admitted to an international college, let’s understand the types of gaps. A break in between high school and graduation or between graduation and post-graduation is known as a gap period. Broadly there are four types, and they are categorized as per the reason for the break.

  • list items Work - A lot of students decide to study abroad after working for a year or so. While some prefer to have experience, skills, or a nest egg saved before applying to colleges. Both reasons are filed under a working gap period. 
  • list items Travel - If you have been traveling for a year or less to rejuvenate or experience a new culture, then it constitutes a traveling gap period.
  • list items Study - Students take a year to prepare for competitive tests and other exams. The time taken is classified as a study gap period. 
  • list items Emergency -Many times, a crisis in the family or personal health concerns make it impossible to continue studying or working. Such a case is known as an emergency gap period.

The Impact of Year Gap on Studies Abroad

The Positive Effect

There are some reasons for taking a break between studies that show the student in a positive light. For example, when a person takes the responsibility of a family in an emergency, it demonstrates that they are mature, reliable, and in control. A few instances where a hiatus in studies can prove to be helpful are:

  • list items When a person takes a break to build language skills.
  • list items When a student volunteers for the development and betterment of any community.
  • list items When they pursue an interest-area that also furthers their career path such as joining a certification course for computer language. 

In short, when a person has a genuine reason for pausing their education, and the activities during the gap period are related to the target course, it will be beneficial.

The Negative Effect

In some circumstances, an interval in education can adversely impact the chances of higher education is another country. There are three junctures where a problem can occur:

  • list items While applying to a program, i.e., during the admission process.
  • list items While taking an education loan
  • list items While looking for a job during and after a degree.

Read AlsoRequirements to Get Admitted into an International MBA


What Courses and Colleges Take a Gap Negatively?

Courses where applicants with experience are given preference, such as MBA, may consider a gap period as undesirable. This means, even colleges such as Carnegie Mellon University (35.4%) and Northeastern University (36.4%), which have a high acceptance rate for MBA will not take a gap period very positively if the reason for the gap period is not authentic or valid.


What Colleges Do Not Give Much Importance to Gap Period?

The question should have been which colleges look at a gap period as neutral. The answer is, surprisingly, a lot. For instance, Harvard strongly encourages gap periods, especially if the reason is volunteer work or focus on a particular program. Yale is another top college that considers a gap period as meaningful if it offers life experience or skill.

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How to Overcome any Disadvantages of Year Gaps while Planning to Study Abroad?

There is a silver lining for all those students worried about their chances of studying abroad. As long as you can show that you were not sitting idle, even the best of institutes will not consider the gap period adversely.  So, how do you ensure that all goes well with the visa officer or the admission committee?

  • list items Give them a valid and legitimate reason. The reason could be medical, family responsibility, preparing for GRE, or gaining knowledge of a new skill or technology. The last one is particularly beneficial if you are going to pursue a Masters. A project, a certification, an online course, or research to keep up to date with trends, all are valid and acceptable reasons for a hiatus. 
  • list items Prepare your answer well. Always, always be honest about your reason for the break and keep the explanation short. Show achievements, if any, gained during the gap period.

Genuineness Will See You Through

A gap period can take any form and any size. For one student, it could be a ten-month gap taken to teach the unprivileged. For another pupil, it could be a two-year break taken to be the caregiver of an ailing family member. How it affects your college application to an international university depends on the reason for the break and the school itself. 
Over the years, we’ve helped many students with their applications and SOP to correctly explain a gap in education or career. Our one bit of essential advice is if you are still in your gap year, then make the most of it. Also, always check the rules of your preferred college on gap years before applying.

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