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Existing gap-year research indicates a number of benefits of a gap-year at the end of school and before university enrollment. Lifespan theory of control, however, suggests that direct goal investment, rather than delay, at developmental transitions is associated with more adaptive outcomes. Comparing these perspectives, we undertake two studies: one in Finland (N = 384, waves = 3) and one in Australia (N = 2259, waves = 5) both with an initial time wave in the last year of high-school. We explore the effects of a gap-year on both psychological and attainment outcomes using an extensive propensity score matching technique. The Finnish study found no difference in growth in goal commitment, effort, expectations of attainment and strain, or in actual university enrollment in those planning to enter university directly versus those who plan to take a gap-year after matching. The Australian study found no difference in growth in outlooks for the future and career prospects, and life satisfaction between gap-year youth and direct university entrants. However, the study did find that gap-year students were more likely to drop out of a university degree. Implication for theory and practice are discussed.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Psychology Commons