News - May 1, 2012

Gap year can be useful

Students who have spent a year travelling before going to the university do better in their first year than those who have gone straight on to study. HBO-students benefit more from a year of working.

It is often assumed that school students can make a better study choice if they take a year off after their final examinations to travel or work. They would then have more time to think about what they want and are a little older. Internationalization organization Nuffic fielded questions on this in the Startmonitor of ResearchNed, a survey involving 25,000 first year students.
It seems that this assumption is sometimes right for university students. Of those who had gone travelling in their gap year, only 18 percent stopped studying or switched to another study programme after a year. The dropout rate among the first years who went straight on to study or who worked in their gap year was 26 percent.
However, a year of travelling does not appear to have any effect on HBO students. A third of them dropped out, compared to 31 percent of those who went straight on to study. HBO students who spent a year working after secondary school in fact do better: only one out of five has dropped out. It is unclear why there are differences between HBO students and university students. More research is needed to find out why, says Margje Geurts of Nuffic.
About eight percent of the students in universities and 10 percent of HBO students took a gap year before they began to study further. About a third of these went travelling.