Why You Should Consider A Gap Year

AFS Team·10 August 2016·4 min read
Why You Should Consider A Gap Year
1) It’s important to choose the right degree

After your A-levels, you might doubt your university choices for location or subject. Likewise, you may not have met the right grades for your preferences, or you may feel pressured to make a quick decision through ‘clearing’ or ‘adjustment.’ Whilst these decisions clearly need to be made quite quickly, it is important to take a step back and remember that a university degree lasts for three, four, maybe even five years. Given the length, cost and the amount of work a degree entails, it is crucial that this decision is carefully thought through. For instance, it would be great to sign up for a vocational degree like law or engineering, and then decide the subject isn’t for you, as these degrees are extremely tailored to a particular employment route. By taking a year out, you could do work experience or further reading to find out what really interests you

2) You can retake A-levels

Taking a year out can be extremely important if you fell short of your university conditions. Students often miss out by one or two grades. If this was the case, you could still have an enjoyable year of travelling and paid work, whilst resitting exams. Students who take a year out to improve their results commonly say that it was worth it in the long run.

3) Working

Quite often, student loans barely cover accommodation and a large proportion of students receive very little financial support from their parents. Saving some money before university could relieve some financial pressures of rent, travel and general spending. Studies generally show that a part time job can be detrimental to academic achievement, so working for a year before university means that you can focus more on your studies. Equally, working is a way to meet new people and learn professional skills. Because of the long time period, you might even be able to find some interesting paid work rather than just a café or bar job. Furthermore, working doesn’t have to be in the UK – you could combine it with travel or you could take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. Likewise, a year out is beneficial for employment after university, as gap-year students have impressive and diverse CVs which are likely to stand out.

4) Independence

However you spend your year out, you will, without a doubt, learn some life skills along the way. Taking a gap year can often turn into a balancing act of earning money, traveling and studying. This will prepare you for new situations and build confidence in your ability to deal with whatever life throws your way. Travelling, for example, is an incomparable lesson in independence. Given that university requires similar adaptation skills, hopefully a year out will ease this transition.

5) Traveling

Traveling is the typical ‘gap year’ activity. As you will hear from family and friends, international travel is a mind-expanding and life-altering experience. By learning new customs, languages, meeting new people and dealing with the unpredictability of traveling, you will be forced to mature a lot. Popular destinations for students are South-East Asia, India and South America. Many students combine traveling with employment such as charity work, journalism, or even bar and café work. Especially for students with lengthy degrees like Medicine, when else are you going to be young enough to have no commitments and have a whole year to travel the world?

By Nina Harris