Pros and cons of taking a gap year

Going from high school to university is a big leap, what you decide to do could impact the rest of your life, so it’s best to be sure which path you want to head down.

Some people recommend taking a gap year after high school to see what the world has to offer. Having been cooped up in a classroom half your life, it can be difficult to see what else is behind the walls of the school. Although when people mention gap year, others envision six months on the beach or sitting in front of the TV.

What is a gap year? Traditionally it means taking a year off after graduating from high school and before entering university acquiring a set of skills that could benefit you in the future.

There are different types of gap years available for everyone. Some students might still live at home and work during the year, but others might use this time to go abroad. Taking a gap year abroad does not mean a long holiday on the beach, there are various projects that a student can accomplish whether it’s to travel and study abroad or volunteer.

If you have already been accepted into a university course and want to take a gap year, you can most likely defer the year. Some universities encourage high school graduates to take a gap year before commencing university to allow them to gain more worldly experiences and mature.  Although it’s best to find out your university’s preference before you make a final decision.

A gap year doesn’t have to last exactly one year; it is up to your personal preference. Depending on which university you wish to apply for, you might only have six months before the year starts. Six months is plenty of time for a gap year allowing you to make the most of your time off.

Taking a gap year is not an easy, you need to weigh your options and decide whether taking a gap year is for you. If you want to go ahead with it, think long and hard about how you are going to spend your time. Plan your long-term goals and determine what you want to do in order, not to waste time.

Like every major decision in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to decide which outweighs the outcome.

P: You’ll meet new people.

When you go on a gap year, it’s impossible not to meet people whether it’s locals, foreigners just passing by or other gap-year travelers. It’s a great way to interact with new people from all over the world and discover more about their culture and life experiences. You might meet someone who is in the field of industry you are thinking about going into; you can talk to them about it. Find out if it is the life you want to take before applying for the university course.

C: You’ll be homesick

It’s most likely going to be your first time away from home for a long period. It’s something that will hit you at some point during your travels. During this moment when you’re missing your friends and family, you might question whether you are doing the right thing of being away from home. However, a gap year gives you the opportunity to discover yourself and other people. A gap year is only taken once in your life, power through, and if you decide it’s too much for you, it can help determine where you want to go to university.

P: Learn a language or a skill

Depending on which country you decide to go to, try and learn something while you’re there. There’s no better way to learn a new language than when you’re living in the country that speaks it. Instead of paying for extra lessons to learn a language but having no one to practice with, you can learn the basics much faster by immersing yourself into the culture. If you have no problem learning the language, acquiring another skill is also useful. Whether you have a part-time job or do volunteer work, it will be give you a sense of purpose of what it will be like to enter the real world after university. You can add your new found skills and work experience to your resume that will impress future employers when they want to hire you.

C: It can be stressful

There is no easy way to plan a gap year. From visas, vaccinations, booking tickets, finding accommodation, insurances, the list goes on. When you think it’s over, it keeps going when you arrive in a country with a language barrier, different currency, figuring out the public transport system. Planning independently can be tough, but it will help you to deal with certain situations later on in life. If you’re looking into doing a program or volunteer work, you can find someone in a school or agency to help take some of the work load off you.

P: You’ll look after yourself

If this is your first time away from home, this is a great way to feel independent. There are some people who would put this on the cons list because it can be hard work especially if this is the first time living independently. However in reality, it gives you the chance to stand on your own two feet, the sooner you learn how to do it the better off you will be. In looking after yourself, it applies in both ways of physically and financially. To ensure you are healthy as well as learning how to budget your expenses.

C: Can be expensive

Depending on where you want to go and what you would do during the duration of your gap year, it can be fairly expensive. The best way to fund yourself is to work and travel at the same time. It will boost your confidence and look great to future employers when they see how you managed to fund yourself independently.

P: A break from traditional education.

It’s quite common for those who enter into university straight after high school to regret their choice of course within the first two years. Going away from traditional education allows you to take the time to consider what course is right for you. If you decide to do volunteer work, teach or acquire a new skill during the year, it can provide a new focused approach to learning you didn’t know you had.

C: You’ll be a year behind.

If you decide to take a year off, it can be refreshing when you come back to start studying. Although as it takes you away from the classroom experience, you might find yourself needing time to readjust to being back at school. You might feel left out as you will be a year behind your friends who didn’t take a gap year. However, by the time you come back from your gap year, you would have no problem wanting to interact with new people at your university.

Gap years are becoming increasingly popular amongst students, but it’s important to remember that it should benefit you and your long term goals. Make sure you sit down and see whether the plan suits your needs. There are many ways in life to gain life experience; if it’s not a gap year then it there will be something else for you. Just wait and see.

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