17 Feb Should I take a gap year?
Along with all the choices of different universities and degree courses there is also the decision of whether to take a gap year. There are no doubt advantages and disadvantages to pursuing this break in your studies and ultimately it comes down to what is right for you. It is crucial though if you decide to go for it that you structure your year whether you choose to travel or secure a work placement that you plan your time wisely. If your potential travel plans have been affected by covid-19 then consider options such as working or volunteering for the first six months and delaying travel til the latter part of your gap year.
We’ve compiled some pros and cons to help in your deliberation.
Personal growth: Whether you choose to travel, secure a work placement or spend time volunteering there is no doubt that you will develop as an individual and gain a better sense of self. Travelling opens up the mind and interaction with different cultures will result in an improved understanding of the wider world. Issues and problems encountered along the way will increase your confidence in handling such situations and increase your self-belief.
Enhance your cv: Working or travelling are both experiences that will look great on your cv when it comes to future applications. They also both provide valuable discussion points at interview. Employability skills such as problem solving and independent thinking are all attributes that can be gained whether you choose to travel or work during your time out.
Opportunity to save money for the future: If you decide to work through your gap year, your finances will be boosted greatly which can reduce the burden of university costs. If you decide to work for half the time and travel for the remainder then money earned can be used to fund your travels.
Time to reflect: Having a year out, after thirteen years of classroom learning, can provide a useful time to find out what really motivates you and excites you. If you have reservations about what to study at uni (or even whether university is the right option for you) then this time can bring clarity for your next steps.
Break from studying: Although parents and teachers may worry that you will lose academic momentum, the statistics reveal that the vast majority of people who take the year out return to further education, and with a renewed sense of commitment and reasons why they want to take their studies further.
Better prepared for independence: Moving away to university straight after sixth form can be a massive adjustment and many young people struggle with this aspect of uni life. If you have travelled or spent time in the workplace this is less likely to happen as you will be accustomed to making everyday decisions.
Sense of adventure: Once you enter the work place as an adult it can be extremely difficult to have the time to experience travel or to volunteer other than for a few weeks each year. There is no better time to experience this freedom than before uni or a structured apprenticeship.
Have a plan: Without an outline of what you would like to achieve in your gap year then the time could end up being wasted away. Plan goals and review them regularly to keep on track. You don’t have to travel for 9 months or indeed work all year. But if you set out your ideals beforehand you’ll be more successful in achieving the gap year that’s right for you.
Friends starting uni/apprenticeships: Initially you may feel left behind. This is natural as you may be the only one in your friendship group not leaving home straight away. Be prepared for this feeling and be secure in the benefits of your decision.
Need to be pro-active: Having a structured plan for your year out means that you’ll need to be giving some thought as to what you would like to do with the time before it arrives. When you are deep in revision for your exams or college submissions you’ll need to devote part of your schedule to research opportunities that will fit your goals, be it volunteering for an overseas charitable organisation or securing a work placement in your field of interest.
If you decide that you’d like to explore what opportunities are on offer why not start some research. For travel biased options head on over to https://www.bestgapyear.co.uk for some starter ideas. For engineering biased job placements try https://www.etrust.org.uk/the-year-in-industry.