The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year
In this article we take a closer look at the benefits of taking a gap year. Taking a gap year between high school/college or even later in life can be really beneficial.
A gap year is a unique opportunity, only comes around once. It’s probably the first time you will be independent from family back home, you can be yourself and do exactly what you want to do. Have you always wanted to dive at the Great Barrier Reef? Explore Japan? Do a ski season? Go for it, you can literally do anything you want to!
Exploring the world will give you a great sense of achievement and confidence going into uni and/or work. Though the benefits of taking a gap year extend far beyond the enjoyment of travelling the world.
The unique experiences you take will help you figure out what is important in life, it will help you make better choices and give you more of a focus to pursue your passions and potential careers. Our list of gap year benefits also include:
- Experiencing the world
- Have time to learn something new
- Gaining a qualification
- Improving your CV
- You could earn money
- Meet new people
- You get to travel and do what you want!
- You will mature significantly
- Take a break from the classroom
- You’ll have some great stories to tell
Some of the benefits of taking a gap year are practical, some are about the development of your personality, building confidence.
Is taking a gap year a good idea?
1. Experience the world
One of the most obvious benefits of taking a gap year is that that you get to see the world!
You may have been on a few family holidays, travelled around a bit but a gap year is sooooo different. You’ll be independent to do what you want, only now can you experience the world. On a gap year you can stay in one place for weeks or months at a time, get to know the locals and almost feel a part of the community.
You will witness how other people live their lives, what food they eat, jobs they do and what makes them happy. You will learn something new with every experience you have on the gap year and you never know, it may change your view on how you live your own life and what is important.
There are so many different countries, cultures and places to visit, you probably have not experienced them all. Choose a culture that fascinates you, and just go!
2. Have time to learn something new
Whether you’ve come straight from finishing your A-Levels, or already had a job for a while, you soon figure out there’s not much time to learn something new.
Taking a gap year means you can dedicate as much time as you want to learn a new skill. Learning and mastering a skill can take a very long time. However, during a gap year you can accelerate the process by focusing all your time and effort to develop that skill. Have you always wanted to learn how to surf? Great, head to the best surf spot in the world for beginners and learn how stand and carve on a wave.
Or maybe you want to focus on learning Spanish. Why not head to Peru, explore the Inca Trail and at the same time talk to as many locals as possible and try to only speak Spanish there. Learning or becoming a master in something may offer more than just the chance of showing off, it may even lead onto a career in something you love.
3. Gain a qualification on your gap year
There are many different routes you can go down during your gap year. Some people just want to travel, whereas others would like to add something new to their CV and potentially find work that’s different from the normal 9-5.
Take the step on from just learning something and get a professional qualification under your belt. Whether you already have a career in mind, want to teach what you are passionate about, getting a qualification will never be a bad thing.
A common qualification is TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) which is required if you want to teach English in schools around the world. TEFL is not the only qualification however, if you are passionate about any particular subject, chances are there will be a qualification for you get.
If you love to dinghy sail, gaining your RYA Dinghy Instructor qualification will open the door for you to work as a seasonaire in a number of countries around the world. Gaining a qualification doesn’t have to take all your time and money too. Spending just one or 2 weeks studying, being in the classroom and taking the appropriate exams is probably more than enough to get your certificates.
4. Improve your CV
Whether have the passion and drive to gain a qualification, or just want to travel, going on a gap year is a great way to improve your CV.
Chances are you’ve met a lot of people and maybe there were one or two you didn’t really like or get along with along the way. However, arguing with people who you work, live and travel with is not the best approach to enjoy your gap year, so you’ve learnt to be very tolerant towards these people. This is a great and important skill in the workplace.
As you have travelled around the world, you have experienced and can appreciate different cultures, which is a very important trait to small and multinational companies alike. Also, the fact you have stepped outside your comfort zone shows you are confident, independent, can think outside the box and willing to take the occasional risk.
5. You could earn money on your gap year
Travelling costs money, why not earn a little at the same time. The money you save could just go straight into your next adventure, or you put that money aside and have a little spare cash during your first year at uni.
It’s amazing how fast your maintenance loan goes on living costs at uni, so having some income to fall back on will relieve the money stress many students have. Also, you don’t want to be the person to miss out on big nights out or ski trips because you dont have any money.
You could find work anywhere, but try a little harder than applying at your local pub. There are 1000’s of opportunities out there, some of which are pretty cool! Did you know that if you work on a superyacht, you’ll probably earn a minimum of £2,500 tax free every month!
6. Meet new people
This is probably what most remember from their gap year. Quite often it’s not the places you’ve visited, but the people you’re with that will make an impression.
On a gap year you will meet so many amazing, interesting people, some of which you’d never think you’d get on with. No doubt these new friends will push you to try new things and explore places you never even thought of going. Some of the people you meet may become best friends for life, or they may just be friends enough that you can rely on them to let you sleep on their sofa, because no doubt you’ll go to their city, county or country sometime in the future.
7. You get to travel and do what you want!
There are no rules here, a gap year can be whatever you want it to be. Google things like ‘what to do in a gap year’, ‘gap year benefits’, or ‘gap year activities‘. For people who are a little more introverted, you could look at group activities or tours to set you on your way.
At Flying Fish our gap year windsurfing and dinghy sailing courses are small groups of 10 – 20 people. Most students don’t know each other before the course starts, but end up becoming best friends after and often travel for the rest of their gap year together.
8. You will mature significantly
A huge benefit of a gap year is the maturity you will gain from the experience. You will notice this within your first month at university. The students who have come straight from college suddenly seem very young, they probably haven’t lived away from home before and not gone on too many nights out.
You’ll find many of them can’t cook for themselves or have any sort of control when drinking occurs (which will happen a lot). On the other hand, you, who has just come from a gap year will fit in right away.
From living in your dorms, knowing what food to buy, how to clean your clothes and probably have a good drinking game to bring out during parties, you have already experienced this on your gap year. Also, you will probably be a little more focused on the course itself, rather than the social side.
You will have been to amazing parties on starlit beaches, so a causal trip to the nearest club on a Tuesday probably won’t get you too excited.
9. Take a break from the classroom
For as long as you can remember, much of your life has been sitting in a classroom. The final years were especially stressful, with A-Level or BTEC exams and having to decide what to study at uni (or not going to uni)!
Taking a gap year will give you some breathing space and save you from burnout or a complete lack of motivation during uni. Having a break from the classroom will also give you time to reflect on your choices for university.
Your gap year will have a huge influence on you and may your alter your world view, opinions and what motivates you. It is not uncommon for people to come back off a gap year and change the course they are studying.
10. You’ll have some great stories
Finally, after you come back off your gap year, you’ll have so many stories to tell everyone. This is why you need to make sure you have the best and most unique gap year ever! Going to Australia for 3 weeks does not count.
When planning, think outside the box, do something that none of your friends at home have done. But remember, play it a little bit cool because you don’t want to be that person who always start their story with ‘this one time on my gap year…’ However, if you want to take a gap year, make the most of it as the opportunity, you may only get one chance before life takes over.
Customers that have completed a gap year at Flying Fish all loved their experience. There with some great comments about how it has helped them grow and develop as an individual.
“A better sense of who I am as a person and what is important to me…”
“Provide me with a brand new set of skills and qualifications…”
“The gap year gave me the opportunity not only to travel to Australia but to gain an amazing qualification…”
We have some amazing options for your Gap Year, from 6 weeks in Greece training to become a water sports instructor to 16 weeks in Australia training to become a Yachtmaster.