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To gap year or not to gap year, that is the question!

My Career
My Career

‘I always knew that I was destined to become an accountant, I just knew’… No you didn’t, Carol. Did you dress up for your first Halloween as a calculator? Thought not! 

Like the rest of us, you thought you could be a fairy or a wizard or a farmer on the moon. But before you had a second to breathe and figure out who you are, you were 18 and expected to know exactly what your life should look like. If people like Carol, or anyone else, ever tell you that deciding your future career is easy, ignore them. It isn’t.

Now, because we live in a world where unicorns like Beyoncé exist, we can say that there may be a tiny number of people who wake up one day and know exactly what they want to do. Identifying your career path, as well as figuring out how to get there, ranks pretty highly on the list of the most stressful life decisions you will face ever.

I know what you’re thinking – a gap year will help me decide who I want to be! But what are they like in reality? Are gap year programmes really all sunshine and daisies, or is there a little more to them?

Here is a good ol’ pros and cons list to help you out: 

Pro: It'll make your résumé look pretty snazzy.

You have the opportunity to gain valuable new skills like cultural awareness, organisational skills and an ability to work independently – which any employer will be impressed by. 

CON: You'll be a year behind.

Your buddies will have gone off and started studying or working. So when you get back, they’ll be a year closer to their degrees, or would’ve already started climbing that corporate ladder. Which means you won’t be able to go through those experiences with them.

Pro: It’s a break from traditional education.

You’ve heard the stories – many people who enter college straight from school regret their choice of course within the first two years. Saying ‘cheers’ for a little can give us the chance to really consider what the right course is, and even provide a renewed vigour for study and a more focused approach to learning.

CON: You're no longer a student.

Fam, adult life ain’t for the faint of heart. Going from school into the real world is a pretty big deal. It can be a big shock getting used to this new way of life. 

Pro: It’s a long escape from the daily grind.

A gap year, for most people, is the most non-traditional life that you'll ever have. If planned right, it can be an educational opportunity for growth.

CON: It can be expensive.

Regardless of destination and the duration of the trip, chances are that when taking a gap year, you’re going to spend quite a bit of cash. The best way to fund a gap year is to work and travel at the same time. 

Stay informed! Visit the SA Department of Health's website for COVID-19 updates: