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Gap Year: Pros and Cons

Taking a gap year between college and University can be a great idea, especially if you need a break from studying and you want the freedom to explore options such as work, travel and volunteering. I took a gap year after I finished college (it actually turned into two years) because I did not feel ready to go to University immediately after finishing my college studies. I also needed time to think about my options. The decision turned out to be absolutely the right one for me and the timeout helped me to decide on the subject I did want to study at University. However, it is not the right option for everybody and here are the some of the advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration.

Advantages

  • Taking time out can help you to become independent and self-sufficient, especially if you start working and decide to travel
  • You can earn money for University and for yourself which will ease any financial pressures
  • You can become more focussed on your education by developing a mature outlook about your future
  • You can start another course of study to pick up more UCAS points for University
  • A gap year gives you the freedom and flexibility or the confidence to pursue a qualification which really interests you and potentially moves you in another career direction
  • You could learn a new language
  • If you start volunteering, you will gain valuable experience, help others and gain life skills which you can include on your CV to enhance your employability
  • You could consider volunteering and working in another country where you can learn about and gain an appreciation of other cultures; this will broaden your outlook on life
  • Travelling will give you experience of being away from home which can prepare you well for University life
  • The timeout can give you space to think and consider future options carefully
  • You can meet people who are outside of your social circle which will build your confidence when communicating with people you don’t know
  • You can start an Internship which will provide you with a realistic insight into the workplace whilst also gaining valuable work experience
  • You can start preparing for your Degree by reading key texts, gaining work experience, learning to drive and taking any required tests

Disadvantages

  • Have a plan in place for the gap year! You could easily end up doing nothing but watching TV which is not useful for your future or your confidence
  • Always defer your University place if you plan to take a gap year, or you might lose it
  • You might feel isolated if your friends are all going off to University
  • Unless you keep up your revision, you might forget key information which is essential for the Degree
  • Travelling abroad and gap year programs can be expensive, so your finances could take a severe hit
  • You will be a year behind your friends who are at University
  • It is possible that your motivation to start a Degree might be affected during the gap year
  • Student Finance funding rules can change during the space of a year
  • It can be a stressful experience, especially if you are worried about money or have a lot of organising to do whilst preparing for travel abroad
  • Parents and other people might discourage you from taking a gap year, so always discuss your decision with them beforehand and what you hope to achieve during the year out
  • Make sure you take a gap year for the right reasons. If you want to spend it partying, then it is not a valid reason!

I hope this article has provided you lots of information to consider if you are thinking about taking a gap year. With careful planning, a gap year can be invaluable with regard to helping you gain confidence, independence and work experience.

By Sonia Riyait

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