Much of the advice you will have received at school will about choosing the right career, university, apprenticeship or training scheme. A gap year may have been mentioned but perhaps as an alternative if things go don't to plan. For some a gap year or year out is a must and perhaps they have been thinking about it for a few years but most people don't or do much about it until they receive their A level results. Here are three reasons why should you put more effort into considering whether a gap year is for you.
1. There are many career routes to take in life and you don't have to follow the one you thought you wanted when you decided which GCSEs or A levels to take. Research shows it's not the subject matter that makes for a good career e.g. ice cream taster but whether work has meaning and is engaging. A gap year or even several months can be a time to reflect on what you really want out of life, not just what you think you should do because of the support or sacrifices your parents and teachers might have made to get you where you are today. Sure, they may be disappointed initially that you no longer want to be a Doctor or that you've decided that you prefer the Creative Arts to Geography and that the termly visits to the south coast will now be replaced by the big city. However this is isn't about them, it is about you and they'll quickly get over things when they see hoiw happy and committed you are to your new direction in life. Getting off the the treadmill is sometimes the only to realise you've been running on autopilot for too long.
2. Your life and that of your friends will change alot from 16-25. You'll make new friends, lose contact with others, get your first job and a higher level qualification. You may get married, move abroad or at least further away from parents and childhood community. Even if you feel life hasn't changed all that much, you will feel and think a bit differently. In that period of 9 or so years you will lay the foundations for the next decade or more and crucially it is probably the time in which you have most freedom to try new things, expereriment with different ideas and take a few risks. One of these could be to commit to a gap year at some point in those 9 years; to allow yourself the space to evaluate who you are and the balance you want to bring to your life. You can study or work part time, you could choose to try an apprenticeship, learn to play an instrument, travel independently, volunteer or set yourself a physical and mental challenge.
3. Even if you are already clear about what you want to do in life and commited to a particular path, a gap year can offer you additional experiences and life skills that will support you in your goal. It is easier to try it now than to hope you have the time and resources to do something later on in life. Many people take a gap year during a career break or perhaps after retirement, which is fantastic but there is no telling how life might turn out so if you would really want to experience a new country, culture, a challenge or to pursue a dream, skill or adventure, now is the time to give it some serious thought and work it into your plans. You have little to lose and so much to gain.