Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year Before Uni
Deciding whether to go straight to university after Year 12 or take a gap year is not easy. It depends on your goals and priorities. Do you want to advance quickly on your career path or gain some life experience?
We’ve outlined the pros and cons of each choice below to help you decide.
Benefits of a Gap Year
- Time: When you take a year out to explore your options, you’re less likely to enroll in the wrong course, saving time and money in the long-term.
- Travel: A gap year is a great opportunity to explore the world while you have few responsibilities. Experiencing other cultures and meeting people will expand your horizons.
- Self-knowledge: Whether you choose to travel or work during a gap year, you’ll learn important things about yourself. It’s a time to discover what you like doing, what you’re good at and what you want from life.
- Independence. It can be hard to feel like an adult when you’re still living at home and studying just like you did in high school. A gap year allows you to take a step into adulthood by earning a living or leaving home to see the world.
- Experience: Many choose to spend some of their gap year doing volunteer work which looks great on a CV. Any job held during this time will be helpful. Universities tend to look favourably on those who’ve taken a gap year and some take work experience into consideration in their selection process.
- Savings: It’s hard to earn a good living when you’re studying, and a gap year is a chance to build up a nice nest egg. Having some savings behind you when you start studying takes the pressure off and allows you to focus on your education.
Drawbacks of a Gap Year
- Motivation: Some people find it hard to get back into study after a break, and despite their best intentions never return. A gap year can turn into several years or a lifetime working low-wage jobs. To avoid this, you need to be disciplined and know what you want.
- Adjustment: If you’ve become accustomed to a full-time wage during your gap year and have to cut back hours or stop working for study, it can be difficult to adjust. Even if you’ve got savings, you won’t be able to enjoy the same standard of living. Keeping your end-goal in mind will help you cope with your changed circumstances.
- Loneliness: University is a chance to meet new people and make lifelong friendships, but it can be daunting at first if all your classmates go straight to uni. This isn’t a reason to avoid a gap year as you’ll make other friends, it’s just something to keep in mind.
- Costs. Educational costs continue to go up, and a HECS debt is a significant burden. By taking a year out, you might be adding to your debt. Don’t forget you can still travel and gain work experience while studying through exchange programs and courses with inbuilt internships.
- Opportunities: Some scholarships and institutions don’t allow students to defer study. If you’ve gained financial support or a place in a course that doesn’t allow for a gap year, you’ll need to think very carefully about whether to give up the opportunity.
- Disappointment. Some young people just aren’t ready yet for a big travel adventure or a serious job when they finish school. Instead of building confidence a gap year can undermine it. If this sounds like you, continuing in a structured learning environment might be the best option.
Weighing up all the pros and cons of a gap year will help you make the best choice.