The Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking a Gap Year

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For most people, the time leading up to finishing school or university is incredibly confusing.

What will you do with your life? What will you do next? Will you take a gap year (and why should you take a gap year)?

These are all questions worth considering, and although the thought of taking a gap year might seem scary there are many advantages to taking the plunge and going for it (as we’ll discuss).

Will Taking a Gap Year Affect Your Job Prospects?

You might be worried that taking a gap year will create a gap on your resume; a gaping hole that will deter potential employers or universities from wanting you, but taking a gap year and doing constructive things during that period will actually make you stand out from the crowd and can only serve to increase your chances of finding employment.

gap year advantages and disadvantagesIn fact, many companies now include a separate section on their application forms for information about gap years. Obviously you can’t just take a year out and sit at home all day – you actually have to do something constructive, well-structured and positive, so this is what companies will want to hear about on their application forms.

In addition to this, most students who’ve taken a gap year say that it helped to focus their mind and that it helped to mature them. These qualities are very attractive to employers, and are worth mentioning in interviews.

Advantages of Taking a Gap Year

  • Taking a gap year is a great way to reassess your life and to figure out where you’re going. Spending a year doing something entirely different will help put things in a new perspective, and being away from the distractions and the pressures of home will give you both the time and space to help you to think clearly.
  • Taking a gap year will help improve your communication skills, your decision making and your ability to build relationships.
  • Taking a whole year out to do something amazing is an opportunity that most people will never have, so don’t take it lightly. Once you’re in a secure job with a mortgage and a family you probably won’t be able to take a year out to do whatever you want, so gap years are an ideal way to do some traveling while you’re young and to ‘get it out of your system’.
  • If you’ve had to work long and hard at a job you hated (such as stacking shelves at a supermarket) to pay for your trip, you’ll naturally see the benefits of staying in higher education and working hard so that you don’t have to go back to the low-paying job you hate.
  • Traveling is actually a lot safer than most people think. True, there have been a couple of high-profile news stories in recent years (where travelers have been killed), but the percentage of people that are having bad experiences is actually lower than ever, if you consider that there’s now more people traveling than at any time in history.

Disadvantages of Taking a Gap Year

Taking a gap year does obviously have some cons as well:

  • You’ll be a year behind all of your friends in school. You’ll no-longer be in the same class or at the same level as the people you’ve grown up with.
  • Traveling abroad is expensive! If you’re going to university/college (or if you’ve already been), you’ll already be in a massive amount of debt (or at least, your parents will be) as tuition fees are ridiculously expensive (not to mention everything else that you have to factor in).
  • After traveling the world for a year it can be difficult to settle back into a ‘normal’ routine of getting up early and going to work.
  • When taking a year out to work before going to university, you’ll be earning more money than ever before, and you’ll naturally get accustomed to a new way of life (where you have money to spend). Going back into full-time education can be difficult after living like this as you’ll essentially be going back into ‘poverty’, living the life of a student again.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages to taking a gap year. If it’s something you’ve been seriously considering, have a chat with your parents about it and take a look online about the possible gap year options that are available to you.

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