After the four years of hard work, late nights, long essays and meeting deadlines that is college, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to taking some time off before jumping into another commitment (careers, grad school etc.). But is a gap year really the best option with regards to your long terms goals? A year is a long time, and if not planned correctly, a gap year after college can end up doing more harm than good. Here are some of the pros and cons of taking a gap year after you turn the tassel and throw your cap into the air:
1. Time to enhance alternate skills and pursue your passion
A gap year gives you a whole extra year after college to pursue your passion before you jump into a regular routine. This could be the perfect opportunity to further develop an interest you discovered in college. For example, say you realized you were deeply interested in theatre during your four years of college. You could use a gap year to enhance your acting skills, or maybe even research and write a play. Being able to enhance skills separate from those you learn in a classroom environment, that align with your passion, is one of the ways in which a gap year can be most rewarding.
2. Certifications to further build up your CV
A year is time long enough to get a few additional certifications under your belt. These will make you more marketable to potential employers, and could even help you earn a better entry-level salary when starting your career. Online certifications in Microsoft Office, or computer programming are very in demand these days. Other programs such as online medical assisting, emergency first response, CPR and more are very useful to have and could even determine your career.
3. Explorations/Volunteering abroad
One of the most common reasons to take a gap year is to explore the world. Taking a year to travel to different countries, experience various cultures and meet new people can be a very inspiring and amazing experience. It’s one thing to read about different cultures in books and talk about them in a classroom setting. It’s another to be fully immersed within that culture, and truly experience a different reality. In the long term, your experiences traveling or volunteering in countries and “making a difference” so to say, will give you plenty to talk about in interviews and make you stand out as an individual. If the wanderlust bug hit you in college, then this might be a great option should you decide to take a gap year.
1. Lack of a steady income
Chances are your gap year wouldn’t entail you working full time. This means you won’t have a steady income – or any source of income at all. Getting started with your career after graduation is more likely to yield an income, with the potential to increase as time goes on.
2. Potential to waste time
Having a year at your disposal is a long time, meaning there is lots of time that can be wasted. Gap years taken on a whim without prior planning can work out, but only in rare situations. To make the most of your gap year, it should be planned in advance, so that most of your time isn’t wasted in trying to plan something that will only materialize at the end of the year. Another factor is laziness. Knowing you have a whole year ahead could make you lazy at the start, and cause you to put things off. If you are the type of person that easily gets lazy, be aware that before you know it, the year will be over and you will find you will have accomplished much less than you wanted. Ultimately, this will just look like a giant waste of time on your CV, and be detrimental to your future goals.
Gap years can be expensive. Depending on the type of gap year you choose, you may have to budget for hefty expenses. For instance, traveling involves paying for plane tickets, accommodation and food. Similarly, getting a certification or taking a course to improve your skills is rarely ever free. Budgeting is paramount so that your gap year doesn’t end up leaving you high and dry.
All in all, a gap year can be a wonderful experience. All it needs is some advance planning and being aware of the potential obstacles you may face along the way. If you take this into consideration, you are more likely to have a fulfilling and purposeful gap year after college.
This article was contributed by guest author Akshata Mehta.