“I’ve been studying for my entire life, I’m tired and burnt out… but more so, I don’t know what I want to do next” Sound familiar?
Why not take a year off after your studies to travel the world, find yourself, recharge your batteries, volunteer or truly work out what it is you want to do for the next 40 or so years, why not indeed?
Why rush into working straight away? Rush into a career you aren’t even sure you want to undertake?
Many countries around the world promote ‘gap year’, however there are a lot more which don’t. A lot of countries and cultures see the gap year as ‘wasting time’ when you could just embark on your working career straight away. Rightfully so, many more are now promoting this year as an invaluable opportunity.
As sighted by the American Gap Association ‘On an educational level, universities are reporting an increase in GPA, greater engagement in campus life, increased likelihood that students will graduate ‘on time’, and of course greater clarity with career ambitions. Furthermore, students who take a Gap Year are 90% likely to return to university within one year: in essence, Gap Year graduates are more likely to attend university than their peers.
Gap Year is an invaluable experience for the following 11 reasons:
- You can work out what you want to study and what interests you before you start studying. Too often students jump straight into studies without truly being happy with their choice, simply because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do in societies eyes. You end up changing courses 1 or 2 times or even worse, dropping out altogether.
- Life skills; it’s frequently reported by organisations that university/ college students don’t have the right ‘soft skills’ or ‘life skills’ before starting full time work. Gap year could provide you the opportunity to develop soft skills such as leadership and adaptability or life skills such as how to engage with others and development of cultural awareness.
- You’ll become worldly through travel, meeting new people and cultural experiences. This will give you the opportunity to grow as an individual. Appreciate what and who you have in your life and understand only you can create your own success.
- You have the opportunity to mature and become independent. Often it’s hard to become independent when you’re living at home, getting your washing done and food cooked for you. Branching out on your own for a small time will allow you to learn how to fend for yourself and appreciate those who have been doing this for you whilst growing up.
- You have little or no responsibilities- trust us, this is a rare time in your life and most likely will not happen again once you start full time study or work, so take advantage of it and feel free, both mentally and spiritually.
- You’ll learn to be flexible, adapt and engage with diversity, three invaluable life skills to learn early. These are essential soft skills in any work environment, so soak up all the knowledge and experience you can find in your gap year.
- You may get the opportunity to learn a new language or completely immerse in a new culture. Don’t shy away from this chance as you never know how this may benefit your resume in the future if you end up working for an international company which offers overseas opportunities requiring your language skills.
- Make new friends- for some people, this makes you nervous, for some of you this may be exciting. Jump right in and make life-long friends who will give you a new, different perspective on the world, careers, what friendship means and may even help guide you in career decisions.
- Don’t know yourself? Have you ever had that feeling that you don’t know yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, or more so what you’re here to do, what you’re here for? This is like no other experience to work it out. No one nagging you to do your homework, clean your room or do the dishes. This is a time just for you, to work you out.
- The ability to gain work experience, whether it be paid or voluntary. Through this experience you will gain transferable skills including communication, leadership and time management.
- Build your confidence and independence. Some of you may not feel this is needed, but confidence and independence is invaluable to everyone. Once you get out into the big world, you will realise you may not be as confident or comfortable with your surroundings as you thought.
Don’t waste this opportunity. If you decide to take a year off, don’t spend it at home, in front of the TV or working at the local cafe (even though that’s great chance to work on your customer service and communication skills), it’s not going to stretch you. Push yourself, get out of your comfort zone, definitely travel (if you can), learn new skills, meet new people and exposure yourself to new cultures and environments. Ask yourself what do I want to learn, how do I want to grow and what answers am I seeking.
Not sure what to do during a gap year? Here are some of our ideas and links:
-Travel and backpacking
-Teach a language in another country
-Conservation and wildlife experiences
-Care work & childcare
Don’t forget to consider:
- Costs and affordability – how will you fund your trip?
- Your momentum for studying once your gap year is complete
- Safety: choosing a program or travels which are safe and respected
- Travel alone or with friends?
Remember this: Make choices for yourself and your future, it’s your future, not anyone else’s.
Good luck with your adventures and make the most of it!
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