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Importance of Taking A Gap Year For Students

Posted on: January 6th, 2020

The Gap Year Movement may only just be gaining traction, but the concept itself is over 300 years old. High Society students in 1700s Britain regularly went on “Grand Tours” throughout Europe to expand their sociocultural horizons. This also happens to be the key purpose of taking a gap year.

Whether it’s just before starting university, between semesters, or before your Masters, taking a year off has numerous wide-ranging benefits. From self-improvement to social, economic, and academic insights, here is why you, too, should consider taking a gap year:

1. Reorienting Your Career Goals

So many students jump right into university without ever exploring different career options that align with their interests. As a result, you are either forced to continue studying something you don’t like or have to abandon your current field and start over. This wastes valuable time and money. Moreover, studying something you are not passionate about can also negatively impact your future career.

So, instead of backtracking mid-career to pursue a field you love, why not determine your interests from the start?

Volunteer in another country, intern in your own city, or discover career-worthy hobbies at home. Either way, a gap year gives you the flexibility to try out multiple career options and find the best fit for you. You will get a better idea of who you are, which in turn will help you determine your future career goals.

2. A Refreshed Mind

Most students ride on a non-stop education train. Years of constant hard work and pent up education stress eventually culminate into one explosive Burnout. Despite your best efforts, you soon find yourself distracted, looking for alternatives, and avoiding studying altogether. In short, burnout wreaks havoc on your grades, wasting years of hard work and sacrifice.

A gap year right before university helps prevent this destructive outcome. It allows you to recuperate and refresh your mind and body. Whichever constructive activity you choose, rest assured that you will go back to university with a creative and motivated mindset.

3. Improved University Performance

A refreshed mind isn’t the only way that a gap year can improve your grades. Your university life will also improve exponentially when you are armed with more ambition and maturity compared to your non-gap peers. Through your past year’s experiences, you will also learn the value of education, which will increase your motivation to study and succeed.

Moreover, your dream university will be more likely to accept you with a year of volunteering and exploration on your personal statement. This is because a constructive gap year exhibits commitment, passion, perseverance, and a drive for success. All of which are coveted traits in future students.

4. A Lesson in Independence

Most students travel abroad to volunteer or go on a cross country tour. Either way, it forces you out of your comfort zone by exposing you to different situations and environments. From money and time management to resilience and perseverance, these experiences foster independence and self-confidence.

You will also learn to be your own person outside of authority figures, like your parents. This will help you lead a rich university life. Moreover, your well-honed sense of independence will also give you a professional head start upon graduation.

5. Increased Sociability

During your gap year, you will be faced with challenges that will require you to think and respond quickly. If you travel abroad, you will be exposed to different people, which will help diversify your communication skills. You will also learn to adapt to different cultures and customs.

All of these experiences, when combined, contribute towards making you an excellent communicator with competitive social interaction skills.

In a world where networking is essential for survival, these social skills will help you navigate university life and build valuable connections. This will also help jumpstart and advance your career once you graduate.

6. Better Job Prospects

Gone are the days when recruiters looked at gap years on resumes with caution and disdain. Nowadays, the varied experiences and soft skills gained through your gap year can give you a competitive hiring advantage. In addition to technical skills, organizations are now looking for a variety of soft skills in potential employees.

Teamwork, courage, leadership, open-mindedness, communicability, adaptability, and commitment are only some of the skills that recruiters look for. Adorned with these skills, your resume will have a much greater chance of reaching the top of the recruitment pile.

Moreover, businesses are now expanding internationally. This means that they are constantly on the lookout for multilingual employees and those with international experience. This is where your gap year abroad can give you an additional hiring advantage.

7. Extra Work Experience

If you are unable to travel overseas, volunteering within your own country can also give you an added benefit. Particularly if you plan on majoring in social sciences, education, or the arts. During your gap year, you can also take advantage of an internship or entry-level position in your field of interest.

Both of these activities will help provide better insight into your coursework. Moreover, it will also help you gain valuable work experience that will further boost your job prospects. This is because companies consider candidates with prior experience lower-risk hires than those without any experience.

8. Experiencing New Cultures

With a journey abroad gap year, you get to fully immerse yourself in cultures that you’ve only previously read about. In professional gap year programs, students are housed with local families, and some even get jobs with local businesses. This provides you with ample opportunity to fully explore and assimilate into a foreign society and build lasting memories.

Moreover, you also get to learn outside of your educational curriculum, along with firsthand exposure to real-world situations. This will help change your perspective on global issues, along with an increased appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity. All of these experiences will help transform you into a socially aware individual, which will reflect positively in your future life.

9. Acquiring New Language Skills

Being multilingual is a coveted skill and one that you can take advantage of with a gap year. You can either brush up on your old skills, learn an entirely new language, or both. And what better way to learn than by travelling? Not only will your travels abroad help you pick up a new language, but speaking the local tongue is also essential for a fully immersive experience.

For those of you unable to travel abroad, enrolling in a language school or taking online classes is also an excellent alternative. This will help enrich your life, while also widening your career options.

10. A Wider Friend Circle

Whether you travel abroad or volunteer in your country, you are likely to encounter new people from varied backgrounds. Working, learning, and living together with a diverse group of individuals, will help forge lasting friendships that transcend social, economic, and even national boundaries.

This is because friendships formed during school and university are usually circumstantial relationships. However, the friends you make outside of your educational circle last through the years due to the varied reasons behind their formation. In many cases, they can even move on to become excellent future business contacts.

With the right planning, the benefits that a gap year provides are endless. Along with a rich and fulfilling educational experience, a gap year can also assist your professional career. But above all, the varied experiences collected during a gap year will help you become a more well-rounded, self-aware, and socially conscious individual.

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