By Pritha Marks - Nowadays, taking a gap year is a pretty common thing to do, especially here in New Zealand.
Taking a ‘gap year’ does have some negative connotations (especially by those family members that think you’re just going to sit at home for a year), but having a year ‘off’ and taking a break from formal education can be a great option.
Gap Year rewards come in all shapes and forms
A gap year can be a hugely positive and rewarding experience. It gives you the chance to experience working fulltime, save money for potential future study (or life), travel or just do something different. Having a year off and interacting with the ‘real world’ can also help you to decide what your plan is – you might find something you love and decide to pursue it further, or your ‘break’ might give you the motivation you need to get back into education.
Be aware of some potential Gap Year downsides
However, it is possible to mistreat your gap year. Sitting around playing video games all year is not the best use of your time (someone has to say it). Depending on what type of person you are, taking a year off can also make it extremely difficult to get back into study. This is where you need to know yourself and consider all options – if you think stopping study temporarily will result in stopping study forever, then a gap year might not be for you.
A year off can also create distance between you and your friends. Working or travelling and studying at university are completely different, and you’ll find that you might not be on the same page anymore. Keep in mind that all of these things are simply possibilities. It is possible to take a gap year, get back into study and keep your school friends!
So, what will your gap year look like?
Your year will look different depending on what you want to get out of it. It can be a good idea to set a goal so that you have some kind of direction (this will also please your parents!). For example:
- Get a job and work fulltime. Goal: Work fulltime for a year and save $3,000
- Volunteer (either overseas or here in New Zealand). Goal: Gain hands on experience in the ‘real world’ and potentially discover a career option.
- Work at a summer camp in America. Goal: Meet new people, get outside of my comfort zone and see if working with kids could be a career option.
- Goal: Broaden my horizons and improve my social skills
So, my advice is to get thinking, planning and prepping. Your year will be all the better for it!