Should I take a gap year?
It depends… The cliche PT answer but is applicable to answer this question. I’ll share what I did and why. Then we’ll compare and contrast each option.
I did NOT take a gap year. I applied for PT school in my last year of undergraduate college in the midst of being a full-time student and part-time worker. It was hard to fit in my 100+ hours of observation but I was able to meet the minimum threshold (I applied with less than 200 hours total).
The reason I did not want to take a gap year is that I have the personality type that is go-go-go. I had the steps in my life planned out: finish college, finish DPT school, get married, buy a house, then start a family. I didn’t want to be held back by time (a whole year) for that to happen. I figured I wouldn’t know what to do with myself for that year if I wasn’t in school.
In hindsight, I realize I could have collected more observation hours (and not feel rushed) and work for a full year to save up money for school. After getting into PT school, many of the students had worked as a PT aide and had insight into what life looked like in the clinic for a PT. They also had more background and experience with therapeutic exercise. So in the “gap year” that I didn’t take, I could have worked as an aide, made money, saved for living expenses for school so I could ultimately take out less in loans.
Do I regret my decision? Absolutely not. If I were to give advice to someone, it would be to weigh out what’s most important to you and what fits your situation best, because it truly depends.