Gaining New Experiences in the Gap Year Contributes to The Decision-Making Process for a Higher Education Programme
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Despite the growing popularity of taking a gap year amongst students, no previous studies have investigated to what extent a gap year between secondary school and higher education contributes to the decision-making process for a higher education programme. Therefore, this descriptive study aims to create a deeper understanding regarding the considerations of advising a gap year before a higher education programme. By conducting fifteen semi-structured interviews it is shown that the majority of students confirmed that a gap year provided insight in the educational choice. These findings indicate that a gap year is able to provide higher levels of self- and environmental exploration, due to the fact that a gap year provides more opportunities to shape students’ interests and choices as they gain more experiences in different environments. Experiences in the gap year provide new perspectives, and stimulates self-reflection. Implications for higher educational theory suggest to study the decision-making process in different contexts, since experiences in different environments positively influence levels of self- and environmental exploration. Implications for practice suggest that students should be more encouraged to gain experiences during the decision-making process.