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10 reasons why you should take a gap year… now

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Buckle up guys – the university results are HERE. But before you commit yourselves to a further 3, 4 or even up to 7 years of further study (doctors, we’re lookin’ at you), have you considered a gap year?

You’ll have a better idea of what you want to do

If you’re unsure of what you want to do – what subject to choose, or whether you even want to go to university at all – you’ll have a good sense of it by the time the year is up. You could get stuck into volunteering with communities, or working with animals; any activity you throw yourself into could lead you down a new career path, or prompt you to re-consider your chosen uni course. Alternatively, you could spend your gap year doing something to do with your uni subject to gain more experience in the field.

You’ll make new friends

Who could pass up the opportunity to have an international friend group? Then, when it all gets too much at uni – you’ll know you have sofas to sleep on all over the world. Meeting new people and swapping stories and life experiences is also guaranteed to expand your perspective, and you’ll feel much more confident in your networking skills when freshers rolls around!

Friends hanging out of a window in buenos aires, brazil

You’ll become more adaptable

After travelling across Asia on a shoestring, the classic financial student woes won’t seem as significant to you. You’ll be a certified pro at budgeting, and you’llfor sure find it easier to cope with being away from your home comforts. The ability to adapt to new environments is a vital skill, and spending a year fending for yourself will give you an edge over your peers when it comes to dealing with stressful situations.

You’ll become more employable

Taking a gap year might just be exactly what your CV is missing; yes, education is important – but experience is what’ll set you apart from other candidates with the same qualifications. Being able to discuss what you learned on your gap year, and how it influenced you as a person will be sure to impress your employer. Alongside adaptability, cultural awareness and a ‘global attitude’ are becoming more and more essential in job candidates – and you’ll have these skills in spades.

You’ll learn something new about yourself

Taking a gap year can push you outside of your comfort zone, and challenge you in ways you’ve never been challenged before. You’ll learn that you’re much more resilient than you think, and it’ll instil the confidence that you are actually really awesome at coping with stuff. No doubt you’ll be surprised at how quickly you picked up a language, or how impressed people are with your ability to navigate a new destination. You’ll even be shocked at how well you do on your own.

RELATED: ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF LIFE NOT MATCHING YOUR REALITY? YOU NEED TO READ THIS

You can learn a new skill

A year is long enough to teach yourself an entirely new language, or learn a completely new skill set. Maybe there’s a cuisine you’ve always wanted to master, or you finally get to try your hand at surfing. Either way, learning a new skill is something that will stay with you for life.

Surfing in Australia

It could help you at university

You’ll be able to incorporate your year abroad into your studies, be it contributing to a class discussion, or having inspiration overload for your term papers. Having spent a year getting stuck into different activities could also spur you to get involved with extra-curricular societies on campus, in order to have a more exciting uni experience.

You’ll see the world at your prime

At 18, you’re usually not bogged down by bills, or tied into organisational life quite yet. Travelling gets considerably harder the older you get, so grab the opportunity while you have the chance. It will completely shape you as you delve into adult life, and you’ll always have those memories to reflect back on.

RELATED: WHY, IN 2017, TRAVEL IS THE MOST VALUABLE FORM OF EDUCATION

Girl doing peace sign over florence, italy

You’ll realise the world is your oyster

If you felt trapped in ‘the system’ at school, you certainly won’t feel like that post gap year. On your travels you’ll likely meet people from your home country who moved abroad and pursued their dream – and they’ll be sure to tell you that it wasn’t as hard as everyone made it seem. Going to university isn’t the end of your life, neither is it your only option. Many people move abroad in their youth or pursue a career rather than a degree. Your gap year will remind you that nothing has to happen at a certain time; you can do whatever you fancy so long as you have the energy to get out there and make it happen.

You’ll feel in control of your own destiny

Going straight from school to university can make you feel like you’ve never had a chance to do what you want to do. It’s easy to be dictated and fall into the routine of following orders, but taking control of your own life takes courage. It’ll serve as an important reminder that you’re in charge of your own destiny, and if you want to do something there’s no reason why you can’t.

Now, more than ever people around the world are thinking about taking gap years. In countries like Australia, the UK and New Zealand, taking a gap year is a right of passage. But in other places like the US, the concept of a gap year is often misunderstood and just starting to gain popularity.

For those who are still wondering what a gap year actually is, you’re in luck. A gap year is a period of time, typically before or after university where a person takes time off to learn and spend time doing activities like traveling the world, volunteering, gaining work experience or all of the above.

Basically, it’s a break from the status quo that gives you time to live how you want, gain perspective and flourish in personal growth. So, if you’re in limbo, here are 10 reasons why you should consider taking a gap year. I mean, if it’s good enough for Malia Obama…

A gap year is a period of time, typically before or after university where a person takes time off to learn and spend time doing activities like traveling the world, volunteering, or gaining work experience

10. You’ll avoid burnout

Need a break from it all? Whether you’re in school or working, burnout is real. For those in school, you probably don’t remember a time you weren’t in school. For the workers, you’ve probably had little time to breathe in between graduating and your career. We all experience burnout at one point or another but being on the constant go only accelerates it. And sometimes the only way to avoid burn out is a time out. Taking a gap year is a perfect way to hit the reset button and escape constant demands from work or school. It is a year to spend some time doing and finding the things you truly love.

9. You’ll make new friends

Making friends in a non-educational or non-professional setting is the best way to create lifelong friendships. One of the best things about taking a gap year is getting the chance to travel and meet people from all over the world. Who can pass up the opportunity to have an international friend group? Meeting new people and swapping stories and life experiences is guaranteed to expand your own perspective and have you build a network of people worldwide. So when you can’t sleep you’ll always have a BFF to text in a different timezone and when your flight gets delayed you’ll have a friendly place to stay.

A group of people watching the sunset on a cliff, perfect for capturing the best travel movies.

Image source:Contiki

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8. You could learn a new skill

A year is long enough to move to a different country, teach yourself an entirely new language, or learn a completely new skill set. Maybe there’s a cuisine you’ve always wanted to master, or you are finally getting around to those surfing lessons. Either way, learning a new skill is something that will stay with you for life, and taking a gap year gives you the extra time and freedom to pick up some new talents.

7. You’ll become more resilient

Gap years give you the chance to explore and experiment. And sometimes getting outside of your strict routine and schedule means getting outside of your comfort zone and experiencing some challenging moments. Like having to ask for directions in a language you haven’t quite mastered or finding out the company you are interning for won’t have AC all summer. Your gap year could mean a huge shift in your adaptability, you’ll learn how to go with the flow and problem solve.

Man bungee jumping
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6. You’ll boost your resume

While a gap year may seem like a break in your resume, on the contrary friends the gap year is the ultimate resume booster. That’s because traveling abroad, learning a new language or skill, gaining internship or industry experience are all super impressive to job interviewers and college admins. Gap years are known to give highly transferable soft skills that will make your resume and application in the workplace or university stand out against other candidates. Being able to discuss what you learned on your gap year, and how it influenced you as a person will be sure to impress your employer.

Research shows those who take a gap year are often described as self-reliant and easy to work with, plus these experiences are great conversation starters (say goodbye to that awkward silence). Alongside adaptability, cultural awareness and a ‘global attitude’ are becoming more and more essential in job candidates.

5. You’ll discover the real purpose of travel

Yes, we could all use a few weeks to sip cocktails and lay on the beach in Mexico but after a while, even that could get dull. There is vacationing and then there is traveling with purpose. Gap years are all about traveling and experiencing the true vibe and meaning of a place and the people.

Local woman in Cusco

Image source:Contiki

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4. It will help you decide what you want to do next

Often, students and yuppies don’t want to take time off because we worry it’ll put us “behind” our friends and peers. But that is rarely the case, taking a gap year to travel, volunteer, work, or pursue a special project can help you determine your true goals before you dive right into college or take the next step in your career. The Gap Year Association said 77% of respondents said their gap year helped them find their purpose in life, 73% said it helped them prepare for college, and 75% said it helped them get a job.

So, if you are hesitant about what major/subject to study or what career path to continue on, it is ok. Taking a gap year can provide you with extra clarity on what you actually want to do next.

3. You’ll realize you have more options than you thought

If you felt trapped in ‘the system’ at school or corporate ladder, you certainly won’t feel like that post-gap year. On your travels, you’ll likely meet people from your home country who moved abroad and pursued their dreams. And you may even find other possibilities that you didn’t think of. So often, we think of our lives as a list and we start to cross off to-dos but gap years often show what is on the list isn’t’ the only option. Many people move abroad in their youth or pursue a career rather than a degree. Your gap year will remind you that nothing has to happen at a certain time; you can do whatever you’d like so long as you have the energy to get out there and make it happen.

A man is standing on a cliff overlooking one of the top travel destinations for 2020, the ocean.

2. You’ll perform better academically

You’ll be able to incorporate your year abroad, internships, and passion projects into your studies, be it contributing to a class discussion or having inspiration overload for your term papers. Studies of gappers have shown that those who take a gap year actually get higher grades compared to their peers who did not. Not only has it been shown to increase your GPA, it also increases maturity and self-confidence both of which serve you well at university or higher education. A nice bonus is having spent a year learning different activities could also spur you to get involved with extracurriculars on campus and have a better experience overall.

1. You’ll change the way you think

Arguably, the most important thing you can gain from taking a gap year is a greater understanding and appreciation for the world we live in. Recent studies from the Gap Year Association showed 94% of gappers said their time spent abroad helped them learn to communicate with people from different backgrounds. More so, 93% report an increased interest in people from around the world, and 90% said they have a better understanding and respect for cultures different from their own.

Our world is constantly changing and quickly. One of the best things we can all do is learn how we exist within it and how to continue to grow and learn. You can watch Netflix documentaries or absorb the knowledge of professors but experiencing different countries and places first-hand enriches our own lives and those of our communities. You won’t just travel to visit a country, you’ll live it and learn from it.

Friends drinking wine in France

Image source:Contiki

If you’re *still* in need of convincing, check out why taking a gap year could be the best thing you do for your career.

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