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There are soooo many reasons why EVERYONE should take a gap year. Despite what your parents might think, you can learn just as much from experiences and cultures as you can from an education. I’m not saying you shouldn’t study, but what’s the harm in taking a year or two off. A gap year can add so much value to your education and career if done properly. These are the benefits of a gap year.
At 18 we have no idea what we want to do!
Let’s be honest, at 21, 25 and 30 some people still have no idea. A gap year gives us time to think about what we really want to do.
During high school, we are pressured to make a decision about our future. In year 12 I thought the decision I made would affect my whole life. Looking back I can see there is no harm in taking a year or two off to think about it and get to learn your likes and dislikes.
Don’t study if you don’t know what you want to do
Studying when you don’t know what you want is a waste of money. A lot of money.
A gap year will help you discover yourself
In my year abroad I started to learn who I was as a person, what I enjoy doing and what is important to me. For me, leaving my usual setting and friends allowed me to grow as an individual and become more open-minded and confident.
A gap year also allowed me to genuinely discover my likes and dislikes, and bring them home to help me choose a degree that suits what I enjoy and want to do.
Travel teaches you independence and confidence
Travelling alone will force you to talk to people you don’t know, teach you to deal with uncomfortable situations and make fast decisions. All skills that will help you in your education and career, and skills that employer will value.
Travelling to New York by myself at 18 pushed me right out my comfort zone and taught me how to be independent. My trip to New York gave me confidence in asking for directions and increased my ability to deal with being lost and finding where I was (without freaking out).
You will do better at University
If you aren’t ready to go to University or don’t know what you want to study, your motivation will be absent. Sometimes taking a year or two off will, in fact, improve your university results because when you do start studying, you will want to be there, you will be interested and therefore more engaged in learning.
This was certainly the case for me, with my results improving significantly after my gap year and change of career path. After my gap year, I was selected to design a social media campaign for Gold Coast Adventure Travel Group. I link the success of my campaign with my travel experience.
I was also awarded three different scholarships and nominated by Griffith University to attend the Aspiring Leaders Forum, accomplishments I am extremely proud and wouldn’t have come across if I wasn’t 100% committed and active within the university community.
Employers like to hire older, experienced people
If you graduate at 21 that’s great, but the truth is you graduate with little to no life experience, which can be undesirable for some employers.
Taking a year off will NOT negatively impact your career in any way; it will enhance your opportunities. Having travel and cultural experience is sometimes just as valuable as a degree in certain industries.
You will be a master of adaptation
A changing work environment won’t bother you after a year backpacking around the world and adapting to different climates, living conditions and languages. So when your potential employer asks you how you will deal with a changing environment? You will have an answer and an interesting one.
It’s easier to adventure in your youth
Travel while you are young and free. Generally, the younger you are, the fewer responsibilities you have. So go now, before you have a career, lease, mortgage, spouse or animal holding you back.
You will make new friends
I formed so many lifelong friendships during my gap year abroad! Having friend group across the world has many advantages, such as free accommodation when you go to visit next!
You’ll have more to talk about
Skip the boring small talk. A gap year abroad leaves you with hundreds of interesting stories to tell your friends, family and colleagues. So instead of telling people where you are from, tell them about your awesome month spent backpacking around Mexico, sailing the Caribbean and exploring underground cenotes.
As you can see there are many benefits of a gap year spent overseas. Obviously, I recommend travelling abroad, but you don’t have to go overseas, you could spend a year exploring your own country. Alternatively, I recommend undertaking internships and getting work experience in your chosen field before committing to a four-year degree. This post shares the benefits of a gap year before university.
One thing I have learnt is that knowing what you don’t like is just as valuable as knowing what you do like.