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Parents far and wide and students themselves battle with the ‘do I, don’t I’ argument when it come to GAP years. There are differing points of view out there, but here is the Goal Digger advice, take heed…

Here at Goal Digger, we call GAP years, “GET A PURPOSE”. There is one question that must be asked if a GAP year is a consideration: “What’s my point in taking a GAP year?”.

When is a good time to take a GAP year?
If you, your son, or daughter is planning on taking a break before heading onto further study, there must be a definitive purpose for the break. Ask yourself “What enrichment will I gain out of this break?”. If you are planning to work at Camp America, or have secured a ‘cannot turn down’ year of work experience that is directly related to what you want to study, then yes, these are good opportunities. If you are planning to do your OE, then yes, this is good enrichment for your development as a person.

If you are really unsure of what you want to do beyond school, our first advice is to get some professional career help. But, if this isn’t an option, make sure you are actively seeking what it is that is right for you during your break time, don’t lose sight of improving yourself. We don’t advocate going and studying something random for the sake of it. Please consider student loans and the implications of withdrawing from study that is the wrong fit, on your academic record.

When is not a good time to take a GAP year?
Quite simply, if there is no point to your GAP year. If you are planning to work to save up for study, beware of the Bling Trap. Whilst earning money is great, are you realistically going to save a squillion dollars to put towards study/living when you are likely to be earning either the minimum or slightly over the minimum wage? We all know how tempting luxury food items, socialising and the odd trip to the clothing stores can add up rather quickly.

Other considerations:
• It is hard to go back to being a poor student when you have had some disposable income for the previous year
• Motivation to study can drop off when you have been out of that environment for a substantial period of time
• If you plan to go into the Halls of Residence, you need to be aware that you will not be a priority student. Preference is given to younger students straight from school
• If you have mucked around for a year, this will not look favourable in your application statements

If you are taking a GAP year:
• Have a clear plan and timeline of when your applications need to be submitted whilst you are on your break. You will not be in the school environment where you will be constantly reminded of closing dates and application requirements.

Get a purpose, or get to study!