It’s that time of year, the weather is grey, dull and miserable and we are wishing we were anywhere but stuck here in England. For many of you this is a stressful time with exams looming and endless revision to get through.
So with all this negativity what can you do about it?
My answer, plan that trip abroad and make the conscious decision to take a gap year.
It’s a daunting and exciting concept but I’m here to give you that push you need. Here are 7 of the most convincing reasons we’ve come up with to persuade you that a gap year will be the best thing for you, both now and into the future.
A Gap Year Will Help Your Studies
I often hear from students I chat with that they are worried they won’t be able to get back into education if they take a break. However, I always reassure them that academically you can benefit from taking time out and here is why…
1. Recharge your academic battery
As I’m sure you don’t have to be told, you’ve spent the past 12 years of your life in education. The past three years have been filled with exams, coursework, stress and applications.
Well I’m here to tell you that University will still be there a year later. It’s not going anywhere. A year out can help you renew your interest in academia and reward yourself for the hard work with a break.
If you're concerned about missing out on applying for university, UCAS have loads of advice about when you should apply.
Allow yourself that break and you will refresh, refocus and come back raring to go and with an enthusiasm that by now you may have completely lost.
2. Be confident in your university and your course
Deciding on a course to study for three years is pretty tricky for everyone – yes I nearly did accounting because that was the first one in the UCAS guide.
Universities pose an equally difficult choice. Cardiff? Birmingham? Do I venture to the darkest North to Durham? Or maybe you’ve got your heart set on somewhere but you didn’t get offered a place.
Take a year out. It can give you the chance to reapply, finalise your thoughts on what it is you are really passionate about and ultimately prepare yourself for the next steps in your life.
That year out now, will serve you well later.
From being able to enjoy your first year as you’ve cracked making friends and conversation with strangers, to knowing what it is you want to study and why. You’re guaranteed to be happier with your higher education choices and probably perform better – American universities say that students who took a gap year achieve 2.3% higher grades than students who went straight to university.
A Gap Year Is Great for Personal Development Too
Whilst a year out is useful academically, it also extends far beyond academics and can be a great time to focus on YOU. Last week, I dedicated a whole post to How Travelling Boosts Personal Development, but for now let's look at a couple of key reasons.
3. Build Confidence and Overcome Challenges
You’ve been in the same environment most likely for two years at the minimum, possibly seven years and maybe even the whole twelve years of education. If you have moved around it will have been from one set of classrooms to a slightly different set of classrooms.
It’s easy to fall into the mind-frame that a particular difficulty is just something you’re not good at. Wrong.
You can do anything you put your mind to.
This is exactly why you need to take a year to challenge yourself; just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability. Watch the video below for some easy ways to boost your confidence:
In a gap year you’ll grow up, overcome challenges you never thought possible and positively help that transition from your parents’ home to your university halls.
4. Boost that CV
You’ve probably just started thinking about that curriculum vitae, aka the CV. Trust me there will be lots more talk about it over the next 3 or 4 years and beyond.
Taking that year out now will give you the chance to build that CV in fun and enjoyable ways. You’ll need to do some internships, jobs and the like that won’t be fun but will ensure that you have the “appropriate experience” for your dream job.
This article from the Guardian looks at how a gap year may be important to boost your CV, and impress a potential future employer. In fact, The Guardian has a whole page dedicated to articles to help you write and improve your CV.
A year out gives you the opportunity to build skills and gain experience whilst getting a tan, exploring a beautiful country or fulfilling your inner adrenaline junkie.
Through a constructive gap year that sees you earn the money, organise an amazing adventure and even undertake an internship, that CV will gain strength daily.
An amazing 88% of people who took a gap year said that they thought their time out added to their employability, per latitude.org.uk.
Want to gain work experience abroad? How about an internship in a different country. We have a range of programs which are packed full of amazing experiences and opportunities to boost your personal and academic development...
I'm Interested, Tell Me More!
5. Gain Invaluable Perspective
How many of you have thought this week that the most important thing in your life are your exams? I’m guilty, I was in that position four years ago.
Even more reason to take a year out and explore. I’m not giving you an excuse to not work hard but there are more things to life than just your exams.
Education is ultimately about accumulating knowledge of the world through a wide-range of life experiences. Whilst exams are part of this education, they are by no-means the sole focus of education.
Be aware that the naive assumption you'll likely be fighting is that 'students that take gap years turn into drop outs'. Thankfully this couldn't be further from the truth, so temper your explanations with cold, hard facts per the American Gap Association:
Amazing Fact #1: A recent poll of American universities showed that students who took a gap year achieve 2.3% higher grades than students who went straight to college.
Hard to believe, right? Studies actually suggest that taking it easy for a while after school ends will aid academic performance in the long run. Perhaps the following is an indication as to why...
Amazing Fact #2: 60% of gap year students said that they took their academics more seriously after taking a year out from education.
...and if that wasn't enough...
Amazing Fact #3: 60% of gap year students said that a year out helped them decide what they want to study and realise their future career direction.
Through a year out you’ll come to learn what’s important in life before most. You’ll see the world in all it’s complexity and glory and understand that there are bigger issues for humanity than a failed date night.
For example, recently I travelled to Venezuela and it was an eye-opener. Whilst there I discovered that Venezuela is a beautiful country and not nearly as dangerous as people think it is. I also learnt some worthwhile lessons about how to stay safe whilst travelling in a developing country (check out the full post for more details).
This will work wonders when you are university and beyond. It will allow you to stay calmer in stressful situations and deal with issues in a more objective manner.
6. Pursue your Passions
Up to this point you’ve been told what to learn, where you have to go and the time to follow a particular passion is probably limited to evenings and weekends.
What if you could swap the weighting around? Spend most of your time on your hobbies and interests and a much smaller percentage of your time on what you HAVE to do.
You can. A year out will give you just that. You can learn a language (remember that blog...), indulge in your love of photography (whether you have the skills or not) and much more.
Whatever you long to explore but don’t ever quite have the time for, now is your time.
Which leads nicely to my final point. Currently I have discussed how taking a year out this year will benefit you starting now and into your future. But why this year exactly?
7. You’ll never get this opportunity again
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You are in your prime. You don’t have commitments; no bills, no full-time job, no significant other half, no kids, no mortgage… None of those boring things that once you become a full-blown adult come to keep you in one place.
Instead you have a time in your life where you can take a care-free year to do exactly what you want. Follow those dreams and travel the world over.
I mean how can you say no to a year that will benefit you from the minute you make that decision and it is accepted and actively encouraged by many of the most influential people in the world.
What Better Time to Book That Trip?
So, there we have it, the top 7 reasons why you should book that year out now and I promise you, you won’t look back.
When do you ever hear someone say ‘I took a gap year and wished I hadn’t, it was awful’?
As I said though, it can be daunting and therefore planning and preparation are key. I’d recommend downloading our 100% free, comprehensive gap year advice guide: The Gap Adventure Blueprint, which contains several chapters that will help you get your head around all the options and offer advice on how to raise funds, plus much more.
on 01 / 03 / 2016