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Taking a gap year – What to do?

Read this blog to find out whether taking a gap year is the right choice for you and how to spend your time!

There are many reasons why students opt to take a gap year before they step into university life. Some want to travel, some want to take a break before their schedules become more hectic whilst others might want to work to gain some real-life experience. Irrespective of the reason, taking a gap year before university commences can prove to be beneficial if you spend it doing productive things.

This blog will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year before university. Furthermore, we will list out some gap year ideas to help you make the most out of your 365 days. Read on to get a better insight!. 

What to do in your gap year before college?

  • Travel

You have one whole year to explore the world, interact with people from different backgrounds and explore new cultures. If you are a travel enthusiast, this is your chance to charter unexplored territories and have great experiences. You can plan a solo trip, go with a group of friends or join a guided tour. It will not only allow you to travel without any worry but also enable you to see the world from a new perspective.

  • Internships

Internships are a great way to utilise your gap year. If you don’t want to use all of your gap year to intern, try to invest a substantial chunk of that period into getting some work experience that can add feathers to your hat and help you later in your professional life. However, before you start interning with an organisation, ensure that you apply for internships in industries you would like to work in after completing your education. Your internship will then be viewed as experience which can account for a lot when applying for a job.

  • Opt for part-time courses:

You can use your break wisely by opting for one or more part-time courses. You can decide which part-time course you want to go for depending on your interests. You could learn a new language, acquire programming skills or another skill that you can add to your CV. Opting to learn a creative skill like playing the guitar, painting or writing poetry can also be a good idea if that’s where your interest lies.

  • Better academic performance in university:

Taking a break after high school and before university can help you perform better in college. This can be attributed to a number of different reasons such as:

    • You will have a fresh and relaxed mind;
    • You would have experienced the world from a different perspective;
    • You will understand how significant acquiring a professional degree is;
    • You will be open to learning after a year’s break.

Whether you want to volunteer at a local organisation or at an organisation based abroad, this is a great opportunity to contribute to society and work for a cause you are passionate about. Not only will this look good on your CV but also make you feel content with the way you spent your gap year. You can choose to volunteer at charities, animal shelters, old age homes, environment-related organisations or other social care organisations.

Benefits of a gap year before university

  • Better academic performance in university: Taking a break after high school and before university can help you perform better in college. This can be attributed to a number of different reasons such as:
    • You will have a fresh and relaxed mind;
    • You would have experienced the world from a different perspective;
    • You will understand how significant acquiring a professional degree is;
    • You will be open to learning after a year’s break.

  • Know yourself better: Since you will be spending one whole year without the pressures of coursework, you can take some time out to reflect upon your life and choices. It will allow you to better assess your strengths, weaknesses and help you realise where your interests actually lie. This can also help you make the right choice for the undergraduate programme you want to study. The gap year can contribute to increased self-awareness, allowing you to hone your skills.

  • Better state of mind: Spending a year doing something that you enjoy can do wonders to your happiness levels. Taking a break before university allows you to reach a better mental and emotional space, where you are open to new learning opportunities and want to take on challenges.

  • New skills: Gaining new skills is always beneficial in the long run. A gap year gives you the opportunity to develop new skills that can contribute to your learning at university. Additionally, this can also increase your motivation levels, helping you develop self-confidence

Disadvantages of taking a gap year before college

  • Disorganised: If you are not a go-getter and tend to procrastinate, you might end up wasting a whole year without doing anything productive. You may end up getting more disorganised and find it difficult to cope with the university schedule once you join. Plan ahead so that you definitely end up filling your time doing productive activities.

  • Unplanned future: While the gap year is essential to helping you take a break from the pressured environment of school/university, you need to plan ahead. Apart from giving thought to your plans for the gap year, you should also thoroughly research the university you want to join, the course you want to enrol on and the location you want to study at. These are important decisions that should not be left until the last moment.

  • One-year behind: Taking a gap year means you will be losing out on a year, while your classmates and peers carry on with their lives. When you start out at university, your friends will have already completed a year. It would also mean that you will be off to a delayed start when it comes to getting a job. Keep this in mind before you decide to go for the gap year option.

  • Expensive: Many universities offer a gap year programme that allows you to take a year off before you start university. However, this route could be an expensive affair for you. If you plan to travel or take up a course, your expenses will be higher than they would have been should you have chosen to start your college degree the same year.

Everything has its pros and cons and the decision can sometimes be tricky. However, if you are caught at a place in your life where you cannot decide your best option, ensure that you analyse the pros and cons cautiously before making a decision. Speak to your parents and take their suggestions. If you decide to opt for a gap year, ensure that you spend it wisely and productively. After all, lost time never traces it’s steps back.

This article was written by Meghdeep Patnaik and edited by Emma Chadwick.