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For a long time, the conventional path was to go straight from school to university and then into the next 40 or so years of working. This is no longer the case. More school graduates are deciding to take a gap year between school and university. The great majority of those who do take a break in between further studying say that it was a fantastic thing to do; a very few have their doubts. Certainly, the more active you are in your gap year, the more you’re likely to benefit from it.

Here are a few reasons why taking a gap year is a good idea:

Time of your life

There’s only one time in your life when you are a young enough adult to do things independently, like travel to exotic place, and have no real commitments, like snotty-nosed children or a monotonous job. Whatever you do in this period, this will be “the time of your life”. Sounds clichéd, but it’s true. You’ll always remember as a time when you were “free”. Later, you’ll think back nostalgically to the days when you had all this freedom.

It makes the transition from school to university easier

The shiftfrom school to university is a time of excitement. But there is very little focus on the other side of the coin: it is also a time of loss. You’ve spent the last five years in a structured environment, with set school times and rules and activities. You’ve probably had the same friends throughout, and perhaps many of the same teachers. You got up every day and went to the same place.

These comforting routines and relationships are lost the day you leave school. They vanish overnight. Poof!

Suddenly, you’re on your own, having to make individual decisions about what to do with yourself each day. This can be overwhelming for many school leavers. There is a definite sense of loss of the familiar. Jumping straight into university without taking time to transition slowly from one state to another can lead to anxiety and make you feel insecure. It is much better to take life slowly, and allow yourself to develop and grow and fully experience each state. Having the opportunity to take a gap year is a real boon to slowly transitioning through the phases of life.

You’ll avoid burnout

Studying at university level is hard work. It’s not for the birds. It requires commitment, resourcefulness, resilience and diligence. It also requires discipline. Often professions these days require post-graduate degrees. This means that many students don’t stop studying after completing their undergraduate degree; there is employment pressure to continue studying to at least a Masters’ level. Studying without taking a break can lead to burnout. If you’ve had that gap year, you’ve already had time off from academics, and a well-deserved rest.

You’ll perform better at university

During your gap year, you will no doubt give a lot of thought to what you want to do next, and whether that involves getting a university education. If your answer is affirmative, you’re already once step closer to doing better at university, just because you’ve made a conscious commitment that this is where you really want to be.

You may also have changed your mind about what you want to study during this time. This is a good thing, as you’ve now had time to ponder what you really want to do. Taking thesubjects you love at university means that you will genuinely be interested in them, and will definitely do better.

You’ll have experienced life beyond school

What you do in your gap year is important. If you choose to sit at home and watch TV and movies, you will have wasted your year of freedom. Really. You need to do something active in order to experience life beyond school. It doesn’t really matter what you do,as long as it takes you out the house and into another world. You may want to volunteer for a non-governmental organisation involved with the poor, or the orphaned, or the mentally ill, or the environment. Or perhaps to wait tables to earn some bucks before you start again with your formal education. Or travel the world (or even the country!). As long as you are busy and active, you will be experiencing life outside of school for a whole year. This can only enrich you as a person.

You’ll make new friends

Most of us stick to our circle of friends while at school, expanding it only every so often to let in a romantic partner and their friends. When there’s a break up, that group often fades away leaving you with the same old friends. This pattern could continue if you go directly to university. Not so if you choose to do something active with your gap year. You’ll definitely meet different people from different walks of life, some of whom may become friends for life. People you meet on your travels can be particularly rewarding if you keep up the friendships as you get older. It’s great to be able to email someone you met in another country and ask if you can come stay.


If you don’t have compelling reasons not to take a gap year, we encourage you to go on and do it. You’ll learn a lot, make new friends, and be ready to tackle university a year on.