Taking a gap year

Finishing school marks the end of an era. Some people assume that the next logical step is further education or getting a job, which can be very overwhelming. A gap year can be a great way to split it all up. Read on for some common reasons to take a gap year and some things to consider.

You might like to read this if:

  • You don’t know what you want to do with your future
  • You're considering taking a gap year
  • You feel like you need a break after graduating from school
  • You're about to finish school
girl with glasses smiling at camera

A what year?

A gap year is when a student takes a year off between the end of year 12 and the next step in their life, whether it be work or further study. Some people take them to enhance their career prospects, others to save money and some people just like to take the opportunity to have a break from study. You might also decide that you don’t want to talk off a whole year, but maybe just part of the year. You might consider taking a gap year if:

  • You feel like you need a break from study after having finished at school
  • You need time to figure out what you want to do now that you’ve finished school
  • You would like to save some money 
  • You want to enjoy your new found freedom 
  • You would like to take the time to travel and meet new people

What’s so great about gap?

Taking a gap year isn’t for everyone, but if you think it might be up your alley there are loads of potential benefits in it for you:  

Experience

There are heaps of opportunities to volunteer or work on your gap year. They equip you with experience that will look great to future employers and give you a really great edge when you start applying for jobs. Check out some of the great opportunities available to you.  There are lots of volunteering opportunities both overseas and at home.

Independence 

School life often follows a really strict routine. Each day is planned out for you and you tend to just go with the flow. A gap year is a really great opportunity to break away from this and have some practice at organising yourself. It can be a real challenge, but as with everything, it gets easier with practise. Even if it does mean you spend the first few weeks eating 2 minute noodles for dinner.

Skills 

A gap year is an occasion for you to develop existing skills or learn new ones. They might be skills that you want to use professionally, or skills that aren’t really of any professional importance at all. For example, some people like to travel to a foreign country to pick up a different language. Whether or not you intend to use the skill in a workplace environment in the immediate future, it might just open doors for you down the track. 

Savings

You don’t have to travel on your gap year. You might choose to stay right where you are, get a job and save a heap of money. This is a really great way to get some savings before you start out at TAFE or Uni and you will learn some really important lessons about managing your own money.  Alternatively, you could combine work and travel by looking for a job somewhere totally new and unfamiliar. 

Rest, fun and relaxation

School can be exhausting, especially that final year. Sometimes you need to just take some time so you can enjoy yourself and figure out the right path for you when your gap year is over. That said, you might not want to give yourself too much free time, otherwise you might find yourself getting bored.

Some things to consider

Taking a gap year can be a really big decision, especially if you intend to travel for the entire duration. Travel is really expensive and it’s a good idea to have a close look at your funds before planning your globe-trotting adventures. The last thing anyone wants is to be stranded in Finland with $10 and nowhere to go.

If you do intend to travel, every country has strict laws concerning visas. Make sure you have a chat to a travel agent before you leave to see exactly what you have to do to avoid being turned around and sent straight back home on the first plane out of there. 

Even though finishing school can be a really fun time, it also brings with it a huge amount of change which can be difficult to adapt to. This isn’t something that should hold you back but keep it in mind when you’re planning what to do after school. Have a look at what you can do if you’re dealing with life changes and if you’re not coping, have a chat to someone you trust.

What can I do now?

  • If you’re worried about the changes after school, have a look at some positive coping strategies.
  • Recognise that taking a gap year isn’t for everyone and it’s just one option at the end of year 12.
  • Have a chat to some people who have taken gap years for more info.
Last reviewed: 24 August, 2015
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