Gap year – is it worth it?

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Many students think about gap year while studying. It is a very popular phenomenon in the United States, but an increasing number of students in Poland also consider such a solution. Gap year is simply a year off from studying. It sounds tempting, but is it a good solution?

Gap year, or a year off

Many students think about taking a break from studying. Mostly it is a gap year, a year off during which you can pursue many goals. Most students simply treat this year as an extension of their vacation, but it doesn’t have to end with just parties and catching up on movies. A gap year can be a good experience, but also a time to meet new people or gain important competencies.

How to plan a gap year?

It’s important to think about what you want to spend your time off from studying. Students usually do not fully know what they expect from such a “vacation”.

You should ask yourself:

  • Why do we want to take a year off from studying?
  • What are our expectations after such a break?
  • Can such a vacation help us?
  • Can we do them at all?

At universities there is a possibility of taking a dean’s leave or taking a break between bachelor’s and master’s degree. It is worth asking the dean what possibilities we have and what application we need to make to take a year off.

Time for new experiences

You can read stories of students who have also taken time off from their studies. Many of them have set their sights on deepening their knowledge and competence. To make sure that the year without studying was not wasted, it is good to plan this time to be fruitful and full of new experiences.

  1. Let’s find out what competences we will need to start our career on the job of our choice – gap year can be a great way to start a course or post-secondary school, which will allow us to gain valuable knowledge.
  2. Let’s find internships that will enlarge our CV – students, especially after graduation, very rarely have huge CVs, most often they gain work experience through internships and apprenticeships. A very good way to do this is through Work&Travel foreign exchange projects. Such projects allow us to combine travel and work. We will gain important competences and valuable experience.
  3. Let’s think about our expectations and dreams – maybe we have always wanted to work abroad or explore the world, so a gap year will be the perfect time to make these dreams come true. Gap year is often the only opportunity to travel and see the world.
  4. Gap year can be a great time to find ways to earn money, e.g. by starting your own business – many students decide to start their own business, which gives them the opportunity to work in convenient conditions and to combine work with studies
TEDx Talks – Gap Year: A Path to Purposeful Education | Jay Gosselin

The dark side of the gap year

Gap years can have their dark sides. First and foremost, poor timing and planning of our activities can cause us to waste a year without studying and, consequently, to simply study for much longer. It is also possible that a year off from studying will ultimately discourage us from further education. However, this has one positive – if during the gap year we actually find that a particular course of study has not given us anything positive, we still have a chance to change it

After the gap year many students change their field of study or finish their Master’s degree in a slightly different field. The gap year gives us new perspectives, which is worth taking advantage of. Unfortunately, reduced motivation to return to the university may end up in a situation that we do not want to finish our education. Additionally, during the gap year we have to support ourselves, which can be difficult without the help of our parents or money from scholarships. In order not to squander our savings during gap year, it is worth thinking about paid internships or volunteering.

Photo: Sebastian Voortman/Pexels

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