After years of school, it’s understandable to want to take a break. If you’re a secondary student, you may be thinking about taking a gap year before university. Or maybe you’re already done with university and want some downtime before building your career.
The concept of a gap year is popular in many places, like the UK—and for good reason. There are lots of compelling benefits to taking a year off.
But there are some things you need to consider. There’s no one right answer for everyone; you should think about what will work best for you.
To help you decide, we’ve laid out some gap year pros and cons.
- Pro: You’ll get a much-needed breather
- Con: You might lose motivation
- Pro: You’ll have new experiences
- Con: You’ll be a year behind
- Pro: You can figure out what you want to do
- Con: You might waste your time
Pro: You’ll get a much-needed breather
While you’re in school, you never have the chance to take a proper break. There’s always an upcoming essay, exam or homework to think about. But taking a gap year means you can really take a breather without worrying about missing due dates or putting off study sessions.
Taking a break and enjoying some free time will allow you to clear your mind and say goodbye to your school-induced stress.
Con: You might lose motivation
There’s also a chance that you might enjoy your newly discovered freedom a little too much. Doing whatever you feel like after years of structured activity can be addictive. As a result, you may find it hard to get back into the education or career frame of mind.
Pro: You’ll have new experiences
Taking a gap year will give you the time to study a language abroad, volunteer, learn a new skill—whatever you want! You’ll be able to enjoy valuable, sometimes life-changing, experiences that you never had time for before, and may never have time for again. And not only will these experiences enrich your life, but they can also look impressive on your CV.
Con: You’ll be a year behind
Choosing to take a gap year means accepting the fact that you’ll be on a slower path than others. You will be a year behind those who opted not to take time off.
Seeing your friends start university or go on job interviews when you’re still working on finishing your studies can be stressful and demotivating.
Pro: You can figure out what you want to do
When you go straight through school without a break, it’s common to feel pressured to pick a path, even if you’re not 100% sure what you want to do with your life.
One benefit of taking a gap year is that you’ll have the opportunity to do some thinking and try different things to get clarity on what you truly want to do.
Con: You might waste your time
Depending on what you’re hoping to get out of your gap year, you might need to do a little planning.
For example, if you want to have new experiences, you can’t just sit there and wait for those experiences to come to you. You need to seek them out: by booking a trip, signing up for language classes, etc. Otherwise, you might just find yourself a year behind with nothing to show for it.
Is it worth it to take a gap year?
As you can see, there are lots of gap year pros and cons.
A gap year can definitely be worth it: It can allow you to take a breather, have new experiences, figure out what you want to do and make money.
On the other hand, you could become unmotivated, lag behind your goals, procrastinate or spend your savings.
So, what’ll you decide?
Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and son, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.