“After year 12, I went to Vancouver for my gap year and met an agent who told me to lose 25 kg.”

Dacre Montgomery, Actor

Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

advantages and disadvantages of gap years

Taking a gap year has become quite popular over the past decade. In many countries all over the world, young people who finished school or college take a year off to travel the world before starting the next chapter of their normal life.

While gap years have numerous important advantages, there are still some issues related to this concept. In this article, the pros and cons of gap years are examined.

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Advantages of Gap Years

  1. Gap years give you the opportunity to explore new cultures
  2. Taking a gap year can make you more relaxed
  3. Gap years are relatively easy to plan with our modern technologies
  4. Taking a gap year can help you grow in character
  5. You will become more responsible
  6. You have to take care of yourself
  7. Gap years give you the opportunity to experience new ways of life
  8. You can make many new friends
  9. In line with the concept of YOLO
  10. You will never have so much leisure again
  11. You will make memories for a lifetime
  12. Taking a gap year can get you out of your comfort zone
  13. You can learn foreign languages
  14. You can stay at a guest family
  15. Advantages in the corporate world
  16. Taking a gap year can boost your confidence
  17. You may also be able to work during your gap year
  18. You may get a better impression of what you want to do with your life

Gap years give you the opportunity to explore new cultures

One important advantage of gap years is that they give you a great opportunity to explore new cultures. While you will be quite used to your life back home, you might not even be aware of the fact that people in other parts of the world live completely different compared to what you have been used to your whole life.

It is quite important that you experience new cultures since only then will you realize how relative life really is and that culture and reality are in fact two completely different things. Especially in case you spend your gap year in rather exotic regions of our planet, you will learn quite a lot and will really experience new ways to look at the world.

You will also be able to bring some of those experiences back home and integrate them into your normal daily life afterward.

Taking a gap year can make you more relaxed

Many students also feel quite stressed in school or in college. Parents often apply plenty of pressure on students to get good grades so that they can get into a good university or get a good job afterward. However, these high levels of pressure take most of the fun out of our education system.

Moreover, high levels of pressure and related stress are also not good for our health. Hence, it is crucial that students are able to reduce their stress levels somehow. One effective way to do so is to take a gap year since students will be able to escape their daily life for a while and will make many new experiences that help them with putting their lives into perspective.

In turn, they will often be much better able to deal with pressure since they have seen under what poor living conditions other people have to live across the world and will value their lives back home much more.

Gap years are relatively easy to plan with our modern technologies

Just a few decades ago, it was quite hard to plan a gap year. However, since almost everyone has access to the internet right now, organizing gap years has become quite easy. In fact, there are numerous agencies that can plan your gap year for you. If you don’t want to rely on such agencies, you can organize your gap year by yourself.

In fact, you will be able to book all your flights and accommodations right over the internet. Alternatively, you can also book those things during your gap year in order to stay more flexible regarding when and where to go. Overall, organizing a gap year has become quite simple and the organizational aspect should definitely not prevent you from taking a gap year.

Taking a gap year can help you grow in character

Another benefit of taking a gap year is that it can really help you grow in character. Many people in our nowadays society are still children, even if they are already 30 or 40 years old. This is due to the fact that most people don’t experience many different things. They just went to school, college and got a decent job afterward.

After that, they worked in the corporate world and lived a rather boring lifestyle. Sure, there are exemptions to this lifestyle, yet those exemptions are rather rare. If you really want to learn about how the world works and how relative our culture and our social norms really are, you have to go abroad and live with people from different cultures.

Only then will you really expand your cultural knowledge, grow in culture and realize that there are many different views on the world, depending on where you live in the world.

You will become more responsible

Taking a gap year can also make you much more responsible. If you spend your gap year in the poor parts of our planet, you will soon realize how much people in those regions have to work just to survive. You will also experience these quite poor living conditions and will also see how our consumption behavior in the rich Western world affects those people in terms of pollution and many other adverse effects.

In turn, you will really become aware of the fact that we have to protect our planet at all costs in order to improve the living conditions of billions of people all over the world. By realizing all of this, you will also become more responsible in your own daily life and you will also be more likely to behave more environmentally-friendly due to these experiences.

You have to take care of yourself

Especially for young people, it is also quite important that you learn to take care of yourself. Back home, your parents may do most of the work for you. However, during your gap year while you are traveling, your parents will not be able to help you out at all and you will be on your own most of the time. Yet, even though you might be scared of managing your life alone, this is actually a pretty valuable experience.

You have to learn to solve your problems on your own in order to mature in character. Standing on your own feet is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn in life and if you become independent from others, you will really be free to do whatever you want to do with your life.

Gap years give you the opportunity to experience new ways of life

Another upside of taking a gap year is that you can also experience many new ways of life. In fact, if you travel to foreign countries and spend your time with people from all over the world as well as with locals, chances are that you will learn a lot and that you will also realize that the standard life that so many people live back at your home is not the only way how you can live your life.

You might realize that there are other lifestyles that fit you much better compared to the boring daily routine many people currently live in our society.

You can make many new friends

Gap years can also help you to make many new friends from all over the world. In fact, during your travels, you will meet many new people and thanks to social media and the internet, it is quite easy to stay in touch with these people.

Consequently, by taking a gap year, you can also make friends for a lifetime, which can be quite nice since you will have connections in many countries and can meet up with them later on in your life.

In line with the concept of YOLO

The term YOLO has become quite popular over the past years. In fact, many people live according to the concept of YOLO (you only live once) and taking a gap year is clearly in line with this concept.

If you want to live your life to its fullest and you can afford to take a gap year, you should definitely go for it in my opinion since the experiences you will make are priceless.

You will never have so much leisure again

Gap years also give you the opportunity to have plenty of leisure. In fact, once you work in the corporate world, you will never have so much leisure again. Hence, gap years are a great opportunity to get enough time to really live your life and enjoy it to its fullest.

Trust me, you will think back to this time one day when you sit at your office desk and will wish you were there instead of having to spend long hours every day at work.

You will make memories for a lifetime

If you take a gap year, you also have the opportunity to make memories for a lifetime. In fact, I traveled a lot before I started working in the corporate world. I still have many nice memories and are really grateful that I got this opportunity to see the world, to experience many new cultures and to meet many new people.

Hence, I will be grateful forever for all those memories and if you want to get the same feeling, going for a gap year can make quite a lot of sense for you.

Taking a gap year can get you out of your comfort zone

Another advantage of taking a gap year is that it will force you to get out of your comfort zone. While you are studying at home, you will stay in your circle of friends and your day will also be quite organized. Hence, you will stay in your comfort zone most of the time and will not make too many unusual experiences.

However, by taking a gap year, your life will look completely different. You will have to organize everything on your own and will also make new uncommon experiences. In turn, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone quite often, which gives you the opportunity to learn about how to adapt to new circumstances.

This is also quite important for your later life since you will have to adapt to new unknown circumstances from time to time and only if you are able to adapt properly, you will be able to succeed in various parts of life.

You can learn foreign languages

By doing a gap year, you can also learn new foreign languages. In fact, if you go for a gap year, I recommend that you already learn some words of the respective language before you actually travel to a foreign country. This will make it much easier for you to get in touch with locals and to organize your daily life.

You can stay at a guest family

It can also be quite nice to spend your gap year living at guest families. In fact, if you live with locals, it is much easier to get to know their local culture and their ways than if you lived in a hotel. Hence, make sure that you stay with locals as often as possible to really expand your knowledge about different cultures.

Advantages in the corporate world

Many big companies see it as a plus or even require you to spend some time abroad if you want to get a job in those companies. In fact, many employers know how important it is to spend some time abroad in order to mature in character. Hence, taking a gap year can also be beneficial for you in terms of job opportunities later on.

Taking a gap year can boost your confidence

Many people also become much more confident during their gap year. This is due to the fact that you will have to organize everything by yourself during your gap year. Nobody will help you out and if you face certain challenges, you will have to find solutions to your problems.

After solving those problems, chances are that you will become much more confident since you realize that you can do those things on your own instead of having to rely on anybody else.

You may also be able to work during your gap year

Some people also work in many different jobs during their gap year. It is on you to decide whether you want to work or not during this time. However, by working in different jobs, you can get a better impression of what jobs may be acceptable for you in the future. Hence, gap years may also help you to find the job you really want to work in.

You may get a better impression of what you want to do with your life

In general, taking a gap year can also help you in terms of what you really want to do with your life. Many people in our current state of the world work in jobs they actually hate, solely for the purpose of making enough money to buy numerous material things they actually don’t really need.

This is quite sad and in my opinion, this kind of lifestyle does not make sense at all. In fact, I really believe in the concept of happiness over money and if you really want to be happy in life, you have to figure out what you want to do with your life and where your passions are.

Gap years can provide you with a great opportunity to figure this out since you will have plenty of leisure and also will experience many different cultures and ways of life.

In turn, you will also get a much better impression regarding what you really want to do for the rest of your life.

Disadvantages of Taking A Gap Year

  1. Taking a gap year can be expensive
  2. Some people get homesick
  3. Adapting to new cultures is sometimes difficult
  4. You have to spend some organizational efforts
  5. You may need permission from your school for your gap year
  6. May be overwhelming at the beginning
  7. You may not want to go back to your normal life
  8. You will start in the workforce one year later
  9. Problems to connect with locals
  10. Gap years are not always fun
  11. You may feel lonely
  12. Some employers may consider you to be lazy

Taking a gap year can be expensive

Even though there are many benefits of taking a gap year, there are also some downsides related to it. For instance, one problem of taking a gap year is that gap years can be quite expensive. You will have to pay for flights, accommodation and many other things.

Thus, especially if you spend your gap year in regions where rent and costs of living are quite high, you will have to spend plenty of money during your gap year. Hence, you may want to spend your gap year in rather cheap countries instead in order to save some money.

Some people get homesick

Another downside of gap years is that many people also get homesick. Especially if you have never been traveling on your own for a longer period of time, chances are that you will miss your family and your friends quite a lot and in case you are a rather sensitive person, you may not be able to deal with your emotions in a mature manner.

In some cases, homesickness can be such bad that people even quit their gap year to get back home.

Adapting to new cultures is sometimes difficult

Although experiencing new cultures is quite an important experience which can really let you grow in character, adapting to those new cultural values and social norms can be quite challenging, especially if you spend your gap year in rather exotic regions of our planet.

Some people will simply not be able to adapt to those new ways of life properly and may therefore also not be able to enjoy their gap year too much.

You have to spend some organizational efforts

While it has become much easier to organize a gap year thanks to the internet, organizing a gap year still takes some level of work. You may also want to change your plans during your travels, which will require additional planning and organizational efforts. Hence, also make sure that you are willing to put in this kind of work before deciding to go for a gap year.

You may need permission from your school for your gap year

Some schools and colleges also require you to get permission from them for your gap year. In fact, some educational institutions may not allow you to spend a year abroad. Moreover, you may also not be able to finish your studies in time due to such a gap year.

Consequently, make sure to check out the rules and regulations at your school or your college in order to avoid any unpleasant consequences later on.

May be overwhelming at the beginning

Another disadvantage of taking a gap year is that you will have to deal with so many new impressions at the beginning that you will feel quite overwhelmed. In fact, especially if you are rather young, you will often not be able to handle all those new impressions in a proper manner and it may take you quite a while until you will finally be able to adapt to all those new things.

Hence, don’t feel discouraged if it takes you a while to really arrive in your new life. It will get easier after a rather short period of time 😉.

You may not want to go back to your normal life

Some people also like their lifestyle during their gap year so much that they simply don’t want to go back home to their normal lives. In fact, after so much leisure and freedom, it can be quite hard to get back to an organized and structured lifestyle. Many people experience problems with this and some of them even completely change their lifestyle, some for the better and some for the worse.

You will start in the workforce one year later

Taking a gap year also implies that you will start your corporate career one year later compared to other people who haven’t taken the opportunity to spend a year abroad. This also implies that you will have to wait for longer until you will make serious money from your job.

Hence, if money is really important to you and if you want to start your corporate career as soon as possible, taking a gap year may not be the way to go for you.

Problems to connect with locals

In some regions of our planet, locals will also be quite reserved towards you. This is especially true if you don’t speak the local language. Hence, if you want to make many friends among locals during your gap year, make sure that you at least have some knowledge about the local language since people will accept you much more if you know a few words of their local language.

Gap years are not always fun

While gap years give you a unique opportunity to see the world and to experience many amazing things, they are not always fun. In fact, you will likely also experience difficult periods during your gap year and you will have to deal with those situations. Thus, don’t expect that your gap year will always be a piece of cake 😉.

You may feel lonely

Some people may also feel quite lonely during their gap year. Especially if you don’t speak that local language and do not meet many other travelers, chances are that you will spend plenty of time alone.

Many people can’t deal with the feeling of being alone and if you are one of those people, make sure to learn the local language and to connect to as many people as possible so that you always have someone to spend time with.

Some employers may consider you to be lazy

While many companies will see your gap year as a plus, some firms may also consider it as a rather long vacation and may not give you any credit for it. In fact, your job chances may be even worse due to taking a gap year in some companies. However, don’t let this discourage you! After all, you don’t want to work for a company that has this kind of attitude, do you?!

Top 10 Gap Year Pros & Cons – Summary List

Gap Year ProsGap Year Cons
Taking a gap year can make you more confidentTaking a gap year can be expensive
Gap years can help you grow in characterGap years can be exhausting
Gap years can make you more independentSome people feel overwhelmed in gap years
Can help you to see different culturesYou may suffer from homesickness
You will learn how to deal with challengesCultural shocks are rather common
You can make many new friendsGap years take some organizational efforts
Taking a gap year may help you to get a jobGap years are not always fun
You can work during your gap yearTaking a gap year can lead to loneliness
You can learn a new languageEmployers may consider you to be lazy
Gap years can change your perspective on lifeYou may need permission from your school

Should You Take A Gap Year?

As we have seen before, there are several advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year. In my opinion, if you can afford taking a gap year, you should definitely go for it since you will have the unique opportunity to spend plenty of time doing what you like to do and you can also really grow in character.

In case you don’t want to take a gap year but search for suitable alternatives, make sure to also check out the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.

Sources

https://www.gapyearassociation.org/downloads/Planning_Your_Gap_Year.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/15/gap-year-guide-see-world-not-debt-life-experience-pay-own-way

https://www.gapyear.com/articles/travel-tips/how-to-plan-a-short-gap

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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