The Gap Year Dilemma: When a Purposeful Gap Year is the Answer to Career Unpreparedness


  • April Dyrda University of Calgary
  • Laura Hambley University of Calgary
  • Kerry Bernes University of Lethbridge
  • Mike Huston Mount Royal University


gap year, career, unpreparedness, post-secondary, students


Students entering post-secondary are shown to be increasingly underprepared for the educational and career related demands associated with higher education. Quickly becoming a global trend and an attractive alternative to entering post-secondary directly from high school, a purposeful gap year increases student academic motivation and performance. Despite gaining popularity, there is limited research exploring the implications of the gap year among a North American population. The present study sought to examine how university students come to make career choices and the implications that a gap year has for this process. Two hundred first year undergraduate students studying at a large university in Western Canada completed a survey about their career plans. An analysis of the results comparing gap year and non-gap year students using a non-parametric ANOVA revealed that while students who had taken a gap year benefited from enhanced personal experiences and indicated that taking this time out of school was a positive experience, they continued to lack confidence and clarity regarding their career plans. These and other findings are discussed and serve to enhance an understanding of the potential benefits and implications of a purposeful gap year


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How to Cite

Dyrda, A., Hambley, L. ., Bernes, K. ., & Huston, M. (2017). The Gap Year Dilemma: When a Purposeful Gap Year is the Answer to Career Unpreparedness. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 16(1), 4–15. Retrieved from