Pros and Cons of a Having a Gap Year

There are many things to consider when deciding whether to take a gap year or go straight to university after finishing school.

Going off and travelling to different parts of the world can sound either incredibly scary or exciting depending on who you are, but it’s quite often the case that people choose to do a bit of extensive travelling during a gap year before starting their university life.

Although there are obviously plenty of benefits when it comes to taking a gap year, there are also drawbacks that need to be considered.

In this blog post, we’ll look at both the pros and cons of having a gap year. 

What is considered as a Gap Year?

A gap year can be described as taking a year out from education or employment to travel or do something out of the ordinary. Travelling to particular countries or continents are common expeditions on gap years, with some people also choosing to volunteer or work abroad during their time away from home. 

When do people take gap years?

Gap year student

There’s no specific time that everyone goes on a gap year, however, most people choose to take them after finishing school or before they start university. This is because after being in education for such a long time, it’s a great time to get away for a while and try something new, before beginning your life at university. 

Some people choose to take gap years in the middle of their studies by taking a year out, and many choose to take a gap year after they have finished their degree and have graduated. Taking a gap year after your degree helps to give you a break before jumping straight onto the career ladder, which is why it’s often a popular time for young adults to go travelling. 

Pros of having a Gap Year

  • New Experiences: One of the main reasons people choose to take a gap year is to visit new places and embrace new experiences. You’ll likely meet new people from all different walks of life and get to experience new cultures – this can be vital for when it comes to developing relationships later in life and it gives you a better understanding of the history and culture of other countries. 
  • Learn New Skills: The list of skills you can develop whilst on your gap year is endless. Whether you are learning new skills through a volunteering job, or just learning things from other cultures, there are several important life skills you can pick up whilst on your gap year. 
  • A Long Holiday: Wherever you decide to go on your gap year, it’s likely going to be the longest break away from home you’ve ever had – so it’s important to make the most of it! Whilst holidays usually have to be planned and can even be rushed over a short period, you have a much longer time on your gap year and are free to be more relaxed with your plans.
  • Languages: If you travel abroad, you’ll have the opportunity to pick up foreign languages – especially if you are travelling to non-English speaking countries. Even if you travel to North America or Australia, the chances are that you’ll mix with people from countries all over the globe, and you can get the opportunity to learn a foreign language that way. 
  • Good for the CV: Whether you spend your gap year travelling or gaining work experience, you’ll likely have something to write about on your CV. These kinds of experiences make you stand out to employers, so it’s good to try different things whilst on your gap year that can help you in a professional sense. 

Cons of having a Gap Year

  • Cost: Let’s face it, travelling around the world is not going to come particularly cheap. Whilst some areas of the world are cheaper than others, you’ll still need to be able to come up with the funding for your year out. Some people choose to work as much as possible before embarking on their travels, whereas others look to work whilst travelling. Either way, it’s worth bearing in mind that it will likely be an expensive year.
  • Playing ‘catch up’: Taking a year out can help to take your mind off things whilst you are enjoying yourself, however, it’s common to feel like you are playing catch up when you get back. Your friends and others around you will have spent a year working or studying, and it can feel uncomfortable to be a year behind them. Whilst this doesn’t really matter in the long run, it can be challenging to deal with and be slightly alienating. 
  • Loss of Momentum: After a year away from writing essays and attending classes, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of academic life. This problem tends to occur more if you take a gap year midway through your university studies, but it isn’t uncommon to experience a loss of momentum. 

Things to consider

There are many things to consider when deciding whether to take a gap year. Goals, plans, money, and what you actually want out of a gap year are the biggest considerations to make. Whilst they can provide you with the opportunity to try something new and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, gap years aren’t always a good idea for everybody. It’s important you take the time to think about what you want, and whether a gap year can help you achieve any goals you set yourself. 

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Student backpacking on a gap year