A gap year is a period of time, usually lasting one year, where graduating students decide to take some time off before working in their chosen career. There are incredible benefits to taking a gap year after university. Unsurprisingly, there are a few disadvantages, but overall, the benefits outweigh the harm that some people encounter.
What to Do During a Gap Year?
There are many things to do during a gap year. While students might be tempted to do nothing at all, they should take advantage of this time to explore both themselves and the world.
During a gap year, you can do volunteer work in your local area, attend a few summer school classes or find an internship to bolster your career skills before work.
Pros #1: Recharge Your Batteries
After over a dozen years of education, it can be relaxing to take some time off to recharge your batteries. You can enjoy simple pleasures like reading a good book or lounging in a luxurious location. A few times a month, you might want to head to the club with friends or take a road trip to a place you’ve wanted to visit. With a year off between university and work, it’s the time you need to recharge both mentally and physically.
Pros #2: Think About the Future
While you’re relaxing, you can be thinking about your future. With the hustle of school, there was never any time to sit down and consider your future. Many students take courses because they are required for a certain degree, but you might have enjoyed some that didn’t have anything to do with your major. This is the time to explore what you’d like in your life. Often, students who take a gap year come back with renewed purpose, or they decide to switch careers and pursue a passion.
If you already got a glimpse of what you would like to do, you might try taking a few months from this gap year period to take short courses. Try a professional development course that enhances your skills in the specific areas, skills needed and required in performing your roles in that particular career. Unlike taking classes in college, taking such courses allow you to see a more in-depth view on a specific task. And that helps you decide whether or not what you think you like is actually right for you.
Pros #3: Travel before Settling Down
You’ll have the rest of your life to work, get married and have children if that’s your plan. The year after university will be one of the only times you won’t have serious responsibilities to consider. You can take a year off right now without worrying about what that will do to others. You only have yourself to consider. If you’ve always wanted to experience other parts of the world, there is no better time than right after university before you settle into your career.
Pros #4: Learn and Work Abroad
This doesn’t have to be a time of lazy days and partying at night. You can learn or work abroad to expand your horizons. It’ll give you new experiences and increase your confidence. You’ll be independent for one of the first times in your life. That can have a huge impact on your sense of self. You can volunteer or get an English teaching job in an EFL country. You’ll be able to learn a new language or experience another culture in depth.
Cons #1: Worry About Being Left Behind
Many students worry that they’ll be left behind if they take a year away from obligations, but many people are doing it. It can actually enhance your resume and give you real-world experiences to talk about during your interview. This is especially true if you’ve worked abroad.
Cons #2: Taking Any Job After Gap Year
While some students come back renewed, others find themselves in a bit of a panic to get to work. They’ll take a job that doesn’t fit with their career goals just to have steady employment when they get back home.
Cons #3: Crisis about Profession
You might leave for a gap year, experience other cultures or explore your passions only to find that you don’t want to continue with your chosen career path. This happens to many people, but often later in life. When you find this out at a young age, you have plenty of time to pursue your passions or explore another avenue.
Should You Take a Gap Year?
Whether or not you take a gap year depends on you. Many people find it to be a satisfying journey where they’ll find out more about themselves and the world around them. It can have a profound impact on the path they’ve chosen for themselves. It can be a well-earned break before returning to find that you’re exactly where you want to be too. You won’t know until you take the time for yourself.