College life is definitely not as easy as some people may want you to believe. It’s an endless battle of balancing your social and school life.
Fundamentally, college life is a whole new dynamic – it’s not just about partying all night every night and waking up the morning of exams to get good grades. Rather, it presents you with new opportunities and eye-opening perspectives.
Jocelyn Thorpe, the service manager at Australian Writing Services, advises, “There’s so much to do and so little time to do it in. You’re expected to decide what you want to do with your life and have everything in one piece. The gap year concept can be pretty beneficial, but it’s not without its downsides.”
Taking a gap year
After finishing high school, you will likely be faced with the dilemma of either going straight to university or take care of other things before you start studying. After four grueling years in the walls of a high school, jumping right into the education system doesn’t seem like the most appropriate decision for some.
Perhaps they prefer to travel around the world, have a temporary job, or they just don’t have any idea what to do once they get to uni. A gap year is essentially a study break that goes on for about a year. Before you join the university, most of them allow you to take time to figure things out and perhaps get everything together.
There being so many variables and choices to pick from, making a decision right away is a daunting task. But not to worry, indecisiveness is a natural state of mind: everyone goes through it, more so teens. Before you finally decide whether or not a gap year is necessary, consider the pros and cons of each of them as outlined below.
You get to gain additional experience
If you’ve always lived on your own and never bothered to include anyone else in your life, it may be a bit difficult integrating into college life. Furthermore, if you’ve never lived alone and have had your parents take care of everything, taking up so many new responsibilities may be a scary task for you.
Having no money for food, rent or life outside class can be frustrating and trying to get cash can be even overwhelming still. Finding a job, maybe in retail, is the easiest way of getting new life experiences and knowing how to deal with them.
You get to take a rest
A gap year is a great chance to step away from thirteen or more continuous years of a continuous barrage of knowledge aimed at you to just get out and smell the coffee. A year without any assignments, school-life pressures and exacts may be just the thing you need to calm your nerves enough for the tiring task ahead.
It’s also the perfect time to develop a hobby if you don’t already have one. The pressures of school life can at times be overwhelming, and it’s pretty easy to fall into bouts of depression. Doing something you love whenever you’re free rather than sleeping in your dorm room is the perfect way to relieve your mind of all the stress.
You have time to travel
Once you get to university, there are some things you need to learn that cannot be taught in class. Having good social skills, for instance, is one of the core pillars of great college life and even more so out of school.
If you’re not comfortable around people, you may take some time to travel around, learn something new and make new friends along the way. Knowing someone that knows someone is an extremely important aspect of life.
You get to improve your resume
Aside from plain-old education, employers love to see little extras on your CV. Activities like volunteering and extracurriculars bring a positive light towards you.
Employers want someone that can get along with others, not just stuffed in their rooms all day struggling to get good grades. Volunteer jobs like posting yourself at a homeless shelter, working with abandoned pets or even cleaning the city are all perfect opportunities for growth.
Getting the most out of a gap year before you join university may require a little bit of effort from you. This takes time and research. Since you’re more aware of what you want more than anyone else, take your time doing research and make your own decision. If you are not ready to sacrifice your time and effort into it, you might not be ready for a taking a gap year.
Here are some downsides to taking a gap year that you should consider before making your ultimate decision.
You may end up wasting your time
It may seem like there is an endless stream of things to do during a gap year, but you might not end up making the most of it. As with most people, after endless amounts of time planning, none of these opportunities may end up being materialized.
If you decided what you needed the most was to rest, make sure you at least do something on the side. Don’t spend all your time lying around, watching TV and getting nothing accomplished.
You end losing knowledge momentum
Once you’ve spent your whole life in school studying, you will build up some kind of momentum that’s supposed to thrust you forward. Taking a gap year is going to slow you down from this constant movement you’ve been involved in.
As such, you may have to do some re-learning to remember the important bits. Of course, not everything you learned is going to be relevant with regard to your choice of what you will be doing at university. However, a little refresher may still be very necessary.
You may end up more broke than before
This isn’t totally relevant for people who are going to be taking jobs during their gap year, but for people who like to travel or volunteer and nothing else, expenses stack up fast.
Fresh out of high school, most people don’t know or realize the importance of saving up money or know how to budget. Even if you do get a job, if you lack these essential skills, you may end up in the same boat as people with nothing to do on the side.
Try to put aside a considerable portion of your income aside if you have a job for later use. Additionally, before you decide to travel, make sure you have a comprehensive budget in place.
So, is taking a study break the right decision for you? It should take a bit of consideration before coming down to your final answer. The most important bit is that you should remember to weigh the pros against the cons and come up with your own answer, rather than having anyone make the decision for you.
Mary Whitman is a freelance writer and blogger based in Adelaide, South Australia. In her spare time, she enjoys talking about Sustainable Development and writing essays. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.