Should I Take a ‘”Gap Year”?

Choosing a major in college is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. If you are currently a high school junior or senior, are serious about music, and are considering applying for music schools in the not-too-distant future, you might want to think about taking a gap year prior to starting college. In today’s post I want to explore the gap year option—the pros, the cons, and how to decide if it’s the right fit for you.

Recent statistics show that there are very few risks associated with taking a gap year. For example, 90 percent of gap year students return to school within a year, and their overall grades are higher than for non–gap year students. Students who take a gap year are also more motivated and fired up to learn.

Here are several reasons a gap year would make sense for some students:

Audition readiness

For young pianists who are high school seniors in particular, juggling a rigorous 12th-grade academic load, a demanding instrumental practice schedule, and multiple upcoming audition trips is challenging, to say the least. These students might require more time to focus solely on preparing for their college piano auditions.

Age

Some students graduate from high school early, at age 15 or 16. These younger graduates might feel unprepared for college life or living away from home. A gap year would allow these students the time to mature a bit more before leaving home for college and being on their own.

Needing more time to plan for your future

For students who haven’t quite figured out what school type is the best fit for them (for instance, conservatory vs. university) or what degree type they are interested in (Bachelor of Music vs. Bachelor of Arts, double degree, etc.), a gap year would allow ample time to explore their options.

English is your second language

For foreign students wishing to attend college in the United States, a gap year could be dedicated to refining their English skills and preparing for the challenging TOEFL test requirements set by U.S. universities. This is a personal choice and is certainly a reasonable path for foreign students needing to improve their English.

When a gap year may NOT be right for you:

Are you the disciplined type?

If discipline isn’t your strong point, a gap year could turn disastrous pretty quickly with very little work done and lots of couch surfing in front of the TV. A gap year must be well planned with a precise schedule and clearly defined goals. If you are a student who lacks self-discipline and the ability to follow a plan, taking a gap year may not be right for you.

One last thing to consider… 

How will you, as a piano student, improve during the gap year? Will you work with a teacher? Work on your own without guidance? Time off doesn’t always equate to improvement.

To sum up, a gap year is a good option for some, but it is not for everyone. Take a gap year ONLY if you have a clear idea and a plan as to how you will utilize your time off.

If you are planning to take a gap year to prepare for your upcoming college piano auditions, CLICK HERE to instantly download my FREE three-part video training and learn how you can play a fantastic piano audition.

Here’s a question for you: Are you planning for an upcoming piano audition but aren’t sure if you will be ready? Are you considering taking a gap year to prepare but are uncertain how to plan for it? What kind of challenges would a gap year address for you? Please share. I read all your comments!

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