Is a gap year a waste of time and money? It’s true, an organised gap year can be expensive, and some would argue that you would be better off saving that money for your tuition fees and heading straight off to university while you are still in ‘learning mode’ after your A levels. You, or your parents, may even fear that a gap year will throw you off course and make you decide against going back to formal study again. However, a longer term view will help allay these concerns and may even lead you to believe that a gap year is far from being a waste of time or money – and may actually be one of the best investments you have ever made in yourself and your future.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t stop learning when you leave the classroom and that your experiences make up a great part of what you know. There is more to learning than reading books or listening to teachers. We learn through our experiences and this learning doesn’t stop when we leave the classroom (or college itself). A gap year offers the chance for experiences that you will never have had before – seeing new sights, meeting new people, and learning new skills. A gap year can also offer you a new sense of maturity and independence – perhaps through letting you go away somewhere on your own or with a friend, but without your parents – maybe for the first time in your life.
You may have eye-opening experiences and see different cultures – which can be an education in itself. Perhaps you want to offer your time to help a project you believe in, or maybe even look into gaining some experience for your future career? Perhaps you can couple a few of these ideas into your gap year?
Whatever you do, the key is in making sure you do something. Sitting in front of the Xbox or PlayStation for a year is unlikely to do much to expand your horizons, so it is important that you make the most of the opportunity and don’t waste the time off.
There are plenty of organisations out there dedicated to providing rewarding and fulfilling gap year experiences, and while they do cost money, they may actually prove to be worth their weight in gold.
In a competitive job market, the experience of a gap year may actually give you the edge over the competition. Not only do you have a unique experience to call upon, but the added maturity that year away may offer you could really make all the difference. Rather than having ‘wasted’ money on your gap year, it could prove to be the investment that helped you get that great job.
Of course, you may need to convince your parents that a gap year is a good idea too.
It has been said that your teenage years are like dog years, and that a year of maturity when you are 18 is worth seven years in later life. Why not make the most of the moment and take your education out into the real world for a year – it could be the best investment you ever made.
You can find out more about what to expect from a gap year right here on our blogs, and also see a range of gap year ideas right here on NotGoingtoUni – who knows, you might just be inspired?