The decision to take a gap year is difficult, not to mention the planning it takes to make sure you get the most out of it. Taking a gap year can be life-changing and career-defining but is it the right choice for you? Let’s talk about it…
It’s a break from academic life that students usually take to reboot, clear their minds and explore other options beyond the usual academic course. Does it need to be just one year? No! You can take more than a year break from your academic life. These are taken before university, right after finishing high school, or sometimes during the university years themselves; it depends.
Taking a gap year is like opening a secret door to a different world that people your age know nothing about, almost like experiencing alchemy for a bit, especially if you are taking a gap year to work and experience life earlier than others.
According to the Gap Year Association, “Students who have taken a gap year overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs.” That’s because, generally, gap years give you time to think instead of following the expected cycle. During your gap year, you will gain experience in business/corporate life, work in a team, interact with different mentalities, and gain the level of wisdom needed to interact in the professional world.
Some people say planning is key; others say it’s all about endless experiences without setting boundaries for yourself. How do we see it? We believe having at least a general idea of what you want to get out of it will help you get your ducks in a row and quickly turn the wheel if things get out of hand. Here are some tips to help you:
Don’t rush your decision; think it through. Get yourself a pen and paper and brainstorm all your reasons for taking a gap year and what you plan to do; this will help you make a sound decision based on facts, not temporary emotions.
Don’t make a life-changing decision without knowing what you are getting yourself into, or else you could find yourself lost and overwhelmed by the scenarios life throws at you. Again, pen and paper are your friends. Make a list of all the possible scenarios you can go through.
He/She doesn’t have to be an academic professional, but someone you admire and trust. Think about a role model who is wise and easy to talk to and go to that person for a chat.
To make the most out of anything, you need to be aware of its pros and cons, figure out whether you can handle the cons, and benefit from the pros. So, here are the pros and cons, coming from an authentic life experience:
You get to experience life after graduation when you haven’t even graduated yet! As a gap year student, you can enjoy all the student facilities without being an actual student. From transportation discounts to libraries passes and many more perks that only students get to enjoy!
Taking a gap year will broaden your horizons and help you understand the “bigger picture”. When you look at a situation from the outside, you can think about your options with no limitations. A common dilemma every student faces is choosing the right major; taking a gap year will give you experience and time to think about it and make the right decision.
Being in new situations will help you explore your abilities beyond the typical student life, where grades and academic achievements measure everything. You’ll get to know your strengths and weaknesses, preferences, talents, hobbies, and maybe even your career aspirations.
You won’t just have academic skills but will also develop some really important interpersonal skills. Getting to know different personalities, culture and handle new situations will provide skills that are not taught during school years.
As a working student, you will feel a sense of independence and financial freedom that will keep you away from feeling trapped in school life and help you understand the value of the pocket money you always received from your parents.
A gap year will give you time to focus on your mental health and spend some quality time with your friends and family without the burden of tight deadlines and overwhelming assignments.
Upon finishing your gap year, you will most likely find yourself excited for a learning experience like no other. You will have an immense desire to use every piece of information you study as you will be eager to learn and develop with clearer goals in mind.
With no deadlines or assignments, you could just spend too much time doing ‘Nothing’. While it is good to have time for yourself, too much free time will only waste your gap year. If you find yourself procrastinating, change your routine as fast as possible. Practice self-discipline and learn how to manage your time
It is not easy to accept change, especially after years in school, and not knowing how to deal with all the possibilities ahead of you might be overwhelming so. You might need some time to adjust to this new lifestyle.
Having total freedom can also make you feel overwhelmed if you are not ready for it. Elimination is key. Make a list of every option you have, and get yourself used to recognising and pinpointing the early signs of incompatibility.
While that is not always the case, it is one of the obstacles that you could face. Not every parent supports the idea of taking a long break. They could see it as an extra year that you don’t need. Maybe using our article will help you to get them convinced :)
When meeting with your high school friends, you might feel left out as they will be talking about university life whereas you will be living a totally different experience. Make sure to share with them what you will be learning. They can learn from you too. Don’t forget, taking a gap year requires courage, strength and maturity.
This is probably the con that people fear the most. Getting out of school routine for a while can influence your learning at school when you get back. You might find yourself a bit behind on classes at first, or you might feel the need to catch up with things or refresh your memory.
Now that you have read this. think through all the pros and cons and think if a gap year will benefit you. Taking a gap year can be life-changing, the best thing that ever happened to you, the smartest decision you’ve made, or it can be the absolute opposite. If you can handle it, go and embrace this experience, you’ll have the time of your life!