The decision of whether to take a year off after school and before university or not is one that many students face, and so did I. When asked for advice, some people said it’s a good decision, while others said something along the lines of “What? Take a year off? Waste a whole year?? Noooo!” Very helpful, thanks. Anyway, what I am going to try and explain in this article is why taking a gap year might not be such a terrible, almost taboo idea.
To Travel: If you have the intention-and the means, to travel then yes, definitely do take a gap year before university. Who knows, this might be your only chance at “finding yourself.” Nah, just kidding. But the rest of what they say about traveling, especially if you do it on your own, is true. You do get more confident, get to meet new people and learn about new cultures, and definitely create memories that will provide you with numerous anecdotes to tell your grandchildren. Traveling is a great reason to take a year off before starting university because, although it might not be strictly academic, you come out of the whole experience as a well-rounded person that people want to invite to their dinner parties.
For University Applications: Many people, like the academic counselor I met at Smith College, MA suggest taking a year off just to apply to universities. This is true for those people who (like me) have no idea just yet what they wish to study and especially if going abroad to university is an option, it might do you good to take the year off and do research, research and research. Figure out what you wish to study, visit different institutes to see where you want to study it and then take your time to apply to your shortlisted choices. I have to stress on this; do spend enough time on your applications, as rushed applications are just not pretty. A carefully constructed application shows the Admissions’ Committee that you have put in your time and effort, and hence going to university it is important to you.
To Work: Another great reason for taking the year off before starting university is to polish off your curriculum vitae by building on your, or creating new, work experience. If you are one of those blessed people (that I am very, very envious of) who have decided on their career path since they were 5 years old, then you could very well consider working for experience for a similar profession in your gap year. For instance, if you are into Journalism, you could intern at a publishing house or at a newspaper or magazine during your gap year. Likewise, if you are a do-gooder and are into social work, you could work with different NGOs and spend a good part of your year off doing what you love. This will definitely be a gold star on your resume and is sure to boost your university applications. A different reason why some of you could work during your gap year is to save up some cash and contribute towards your undoubtedly costly university education. That is, if you are the self-sufficient, independent type. Or you could just mooch off your parents for as long as possible. No judgment.
I hope these are good enough reasons for you that could make taking a gap year an option. However before I end this article I would like to make clear when you should NOT take a gap year: If the only thing you wish to develop on during the year off is your addiction for the good ol’ television, please don’t do it. As tempting as watching reruns of Friends half the day and sleeping for the other half sounds, in the end all your friends will be one year smarter than you by having completed first year of university (or doing something from above during their useful gap year), and the only thing you will have achieved is knowing all of Joey’s lines from the first season. The decision won’t seem as wise then, would it? Anyway, hope these pointers make the gap year related decision making process a little bit easier, coming from someone who is currently on a gap year and who did all of the above (yes, two weeks of internship DOES count as work experience).