Should I Take a Gap Year After University?

Choosing the right path after university can be a huge decision for any new grad. The transition from structured education to the uncertainties of the professional world can be daunting, to say the least.

So, what’s next?

Many graduates decide to take a gap year before diving headfirst into a graduate job, which can offer a unique opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences – but it’s always not for everyone.

Before taking a gap year, there are several pros and cons to weigh up to decide if it’s the best option for you. Here are some to think about:

Pros of taking a gap year after university

You’ll have more time to figure out what you want to do

After finishing university, it’s not unusual to feel a bit lost.

You may not have any clue about which career path you want to follow, or you might just be exhausted after intense study and need a break before entering the working world.

That’s where a gap year can come in handy.

It gives you the chance to take a step back, explore the world and figure out what really fuels your ambitions. However, It’s important to approach the year with some form of planning. Setting small and easily achievable goals and creating a loose roadmap for the months ahead can help you make the most of your time, whether it’s volunteering, trying out an internship or pursuing personal projects.

Ultimately, just embrace the adventure and see where it takes you!

Work experience

After finishing university you may be left wondering how to land a job without having much work experience under your belt. It can be super frustrating, right? But a gap year could solve the problem.

It gives you the chance to try out new opportunities (as mentioned above) and gain new skills along the way. This can boost your chances of scoring your ideal graduate job when the time comes around.

These prospects not only build up your professional experience but also show future employers that you’re a go-getter – and that’s a key trait in any good candidate.

Global perspective

Whether you’re keen to visit different countries or live abroad for the year, going on your travels can be a great opportunity to soak up diverse cultures and gain new perspectives. It can really expand your understanding of the world and shape you into a more open-minded person.

In time, you may come to understand there’s not just one “right” way of doing things. We learn to appreciate and respect different perspectives and become more accepting of different beliefs, values, and ways of life, which is a valued skill in any industry or company.

Today, employers appreciate individuals who work effectively with people from different backgrounds and be accepting of new ideas.

So, it’s a win-win! As you spend your year jetting off and enjoying your travels, you’ll be working wonders for your career too.

Cons of taking a gap year after university

Don’t let it become a distraction

While gap years have the potential to be highly beneficial, it all depends how you utilise your time. Lazing the days away without any sense of direction could start to hinder your long-term goals.

It would be best to take some time for serious reflection to think about what you’d like to have achieved by the end of the year. If your intention is to simply kick back and relax and avoid making important decisions, it’s not worth pursuing.

Ask yourself some important questions:

  • What’s my main objective?
  • How will a gap year contribute to my personal development?

You may feel isolated

After years spent in education in classroom and learning environments, going it alone on a gap year can be isolating for some. As you watch your peers start new graduate jobs or further their education, it’s natural to feel as though you have been left behind.

Remember that taking one year out isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ in harming your professional journey. Think of it as a short breather to help you gain some more clarity about where you want to go in life – and that’s perfectly okay.

Think about your finances

While travelling around the world on gap year programmes is a dream for many, it does come at a price. So, really think about whether it’s an affordable venture for you at this moment. You’ll need to fork out for expenses such as transportation, accommodation, meals, visas, insurance, and activities or excursions.

Research the cost of living in the countries you plan to visit, as it can vary significantly. Take into account the duration of your trip and calculate an estimated daily or monthly expenditure to see whether it’s feasible.

If the cost is putting you off, why not work abroad temporarily instead?

You’ll be earning a steady income while visiting new destinations on your bucket list. Temporary work opportunities can range from teaching English, working in hospitality or tourism, or participating in work-exchange programmes where accommodation and meals are provided in exchange for labour.

It’s important to research and understand the legal requirements and regulations for working abroad, such as obtaining appropriate work visas or permits. Familiarise yourself with the job market and availability of positions, as this can vary depending on the country and industry.