In recent years, gap years have become a popular choice for those who have just finished high school or university. While some people use this time to earn some money (or even do nothing at all!), others are opting to travel or seek a temporary job before continuing with their studies. Over the last few years, travelling during a gap year has become a popular choice for young (and increasingly, older) people. While we definitely agree one should treat themselves to a break every now and then, and while exploring the world and getting to learn and experience different cultures is absolutely great, there are a few things you should consider before making a big decision.O
CONSIDER… IS A GAP YEAR RIGHT FOR YOU?
Gap years require a lot of discipline and commitment. This time should be considered the perfect opportunity to exploring your interests, find your passion and discover what your really want to do in life when you move on to university or before you take on your first serious job. Before deciding whether or not you should take a gap year, ask yourself, “is a gap year really right for me?”. Question yourself and talk to your family or friends about the real reason you want to take a gap year. Are you really interested in exploring the world and getting to know yourself and your passions? Or are you looking for an escape or a postponement because you’re simply not ready, or can’t be bothered (!) to face reality?
RESEARCH… DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW?
As soon as you’ve started to question yourself about taking a gap year, do some research. You should definitely discuss your decisions with your college or university to find out whether they support gap year deferments. Some colleges do not agree with gap years, while others are more favorable. You may have to reapply if you do take a gap year, making it an essential that you find out all this information and what support you’ll be able to get before making your final decision. A gap year can put a strain on your application depending on the college of your choice.
FINANCES… ARE YOU FINANCIALLY READY?
Taking a gap year can be expensive. Depending on where you plan on going and what you plan on doing, gap years can cost both you and your family a lot of money! However, because a gap year should help clarify whether your original choice of degree is what you really want, in the long run this can also save you money. In some cases, students choose a degree without really knowing whether it is something they really want. Your gap year should help you determine if you’re heading towards the right degree and possible life long journey focusing on what you truly love the most.
PLAN AHEAD… WILL YOU STILL GET FINANCIAL AID UPON YOUR RETURN?
Depending on your family’s financial situation, you may or may not receive financial aid from your university or your government upon your return. Most of the time it’s your family’s finances that will be taken into account, and whether you qualify for financial aid based on your household’s income. In some case, scholarships can be put on hold for students that take gap years, while in other circumstances colleges may give your slot up. Anything to do with finances should be considered before your final decision, and more so for those that have already decided to take a gap year.