Have you considered taking a gap year?
Students, if you have parents who are downright giddy about the idea of you going off to college or university, you might want to save this article until they are out of the room because chances are they won’t be overly thrilled with me for putting the idea of delaying the start of your post-secondary schooling in your head.
And I understand that completely. They want what is best for you, they want to help you succeed and get ahead in life and to them that equates launching yourself into more schooling so that you don’t lose momentum or fall behind your peers.
Choosing a college or university program is one of the most important decisions you will make in your young life. It is a decision that will not only cost you a significant amount of money to pursue, but it has the ability to dictate what you will be doing for the next 45 years of your life. Forgive me if I am wrong, but a poor choice here is the reason why many adults are so dissatisfied with their work lives.
There use to be a stigma involved with people that did not go directly into post-secondary education after graduating from high school. They were drifters, lazy; under achievers who would rather spend a year undergoing what was sarcastically referred to as “self-discovery” than buckle down and become a contributing member of society.
This stigma doesn’t do anybody any service.
Gap years are not for the lazy. They are a tool, that when used right, can contribute greatly down the line to total career satisfaction. I’ve known many people, friends and family alike, that have taken that year of “self discovery” to work, volunteer, build their resumes and academics, and confirm what path they want their future to take.
Why do so many people think that is a bad idea?
Firstly, if you are not 110% sure of what you want to do with your future, why on earth would you want to plow ahead and spend upwards of $60,000.00 or more in tuition, books, and other fees pursuing a vocational goal that you might not like in four or five years? Financially, it makes sense to take a year or even just a semester off to confirm that decision in your mind before you spend that money. It is going to cost you a lot less in the long run to take that year off now rather than having to take another four years off down the road to go back to school after you discover that you really can’t stand your current career. Take the time now to learn more about a few different career options. This can be done through making some industry contacts, talking with them and maybe even completing an internship or some volunteer hours to get some hands on experience.
Even if you are entirely confident of your future career, taking that year off can still be incredibly beneficial and by taking the year off I don’t mean spending the next 12 months lying on your parents’ couch watching old sitcom re-runs. If you are going to take a gap year, be smart about it. If you are positive about your career choice, use your year to build up your resume, get some job experience and network with other industry professionals. This experience will push you to the top of your class when you do go to school the following year (which your parents will love) and set the stage in your future when it comes to finding a summer internship or entry level job when you do graduate.