Gap year, year off, year on, ‘gap yah‘, break – whatever you want to call it, taking some time off between school and university can be great for you.
Your parents might have frowned at the suggestion of time away from education but there are many reasons why it can actually be very beneficial.
Here’s why you should consider taking a year off…
You’ll go to university feeling refreshed
Let’s face it, you’ve been in education for at least a decade already! You’ve worked long, hard hours to get to where you are now – you’ve definitely earned a break.
You deserve a little time off after your hectic final exams. If you intend to go straight to university and then straight on into a career you may struggle to find the time to have a proper break once firmly in the working world.
So, grasp the opportunity to take a breather and take some time for yourself – you’re young, after all!
You will better understand your goals
If there’s one thing a gap year gives everyone, it’s time. Time to think about what you want, time to make mistakes, time to make decisions.
If you’re still uncertain about what you want the future to hold then taking a year to consider it can be hugely beneficial not just for your degree, your wellbeing and your career, but for your whole life trajectory. Rushing into something as big as choosing a degree is never going to be a wise plan!
You will better understand the world
Desperate to study abroad but have never been overseas? If you can get out there and get some travelling under your belt, you’re bound to uncover so much more about the world than you would do from your bedroom.
Use these experiences to inform you on where you want to study abroad. Visit a few countries you may be keen on for your studies and see what the locals are like. How about the weather? The food? The culture? Ask yourself: Can I see myself here?
If the answer is yes then make a note of what you loved about being there and you can compare countries at the end of your trip.
You can do all the research in the world but there’s nothing quite like really being in a country to gain an authentic feel. You never quite know until you’re there.
You will become more independent
Studying abroad is an exhilarating yet challenging way to push yourself. You might not be ready to leave the comforts of Mum and Dad by moving away on either a permanent or semi-permanent basis, so take a year to ease yourself into the idea before taking the plunge.
Maybe you’ll embark on a solo trip around your country or continent or even the world to push yourself into becoming more independent. By the time the year comes to an end, you’ll be more than ready to leap into international student life.
You can test-run a few different paths
Why not try getting an internship or work experience placement in a field you’re interested in on your gap year? Email local companies sthat interest you and see if you can gain a little experience of the working world. This will give you the chance to test a few different paths and see which one might suit you best.
Many students find this in their first few jobs after graduation. The trial and error period can be draining when these jobs are your main source of income and aren’t so easily interchangeable.
You will save yourself time and money if you have a much clearer idea of where you want to go after graduation before choosing your degree.
After all, one of the prime reasons students tend to go to university is for their future career. It would be less than desirable to fall in love with a career after you’ve earned a degree in something else that’s completely irrelevant.
You may improve your desirability to universities
Well-travelled? Check. Independent? Check. Interesting? Check. Language skills? Check. People skills? Check. Work experience? Check.
You can pick it all up in your gap year if you’re savvy. And if there’s one thing universities like, it’s a diverse, interesting individual who has a lot to talk about.
So, while you may have heard from the odd teacher or relative that a gap year is counterproductive or wasting time or taking away from your education, it might not be the case.