With A Level results coming out today there will be thousands of people figuring out what to do next – to find a job, to head to university or to take a gap year. It’s a big decision to make when you’re not entirely sure where life is taking you.
We live in an era where university places are limited and tuition fees are the size of small mortgage. A degree doesn’t actually guarantee anything other than a huge amount of debt, 3 years of commitment and a lot of essays – so more and more people are opting to take a gap year, relax and figure out what to do next with their hard earned A Level results.
Ok so you may have guessed that this article will be slightly bias towards the gap year option over university – but trust us, we’ve done both and these are 5 reasons why we genuinely feel a gap year is more useful than a university degree…
Real World Experience (Like The Actual Real World!)
University is often viewed as your firsts steps into the ‘real world’. But lets face it a gap year provides the first steps into the actual world. A world away from the comfort of the same town, county, country and even language – it’s the actual world where life isn’t cushioned with student loans, a quick trip home to do your washing or your mum brining you meals to defrost and eat later.
This is the world where you can wake up to a sunrise over centuries old temples, not through the window of a lecture theatre. Where the books you read are how to get to your next physical destination, not theories or equations. Where the people you meet are from a whole different culture, not just a postcode.
A gap year takes it to a whole new level. You are submerged IN the world, not just dipping your toe in the next puddle.
Unique Job Opportunities
Sure the whole idea of going to uni is to prepare yourself for a job, but unless you’re living under a rock you’ll be pretty aware of the fact that’s far from a guarantee and the whole job market thing isn’t ideal right now. A gap year opens up a whole new realm of job prospects that you may not have considered – like becoming a dive master, training to be a surf coach or even a ski instructor.
And these aren’t the type of jobs that require 3 years of essay writing or snoozing in a lesson. They’re on the job, doing something exciting and new or indulging a passion. They leave you with a world recognised qualification AND experience – experience and training that doesn’t cost a fraction of university.
They’re the travelling persons apprenticeships – combining memories that will last a lifetime with a certification that opens up new doorways.
Granted uni teaches you life skills. But again they’re sheltered, nurtured, and pretty flakey. If done correctly a gap year will grow you significantly as a person and quickly help you acquire a deep and practical level of life skills. Things like budgeting, cooking, communication and organisation are all key focuses on a successful gap year and they’re the skills you need to survive in the world today.
Sure you might be able to budget your student loan for 3 months and locate your classroom across campus whilst shovelling instant noodles down your face – but that’s nothing in comparison to trying to negotiate a strange city, in a language you don’t understand, on a shoestring budget whilst deciding which gorgeous and exotic culinary street food to graze on.
When it comes to a gap year these life skills are a natural extension of the experience – if you don’t learn them and put them into practice there is no real fall back, you simply have to cut your trip short and return home.
A gap year puts your money where your mouth is!
A few years ago the thought of spending over £10,000 on a year of travel instead of going to university might have seemed crazy. However, these days university fees are ridiculously high and a huge financial burden to people wanting to follow that route. Essentially, you leave with the most expensive piece of paper you will ever own.
The average gap year now costs a fraction of the price of university and most people will save this money up front – returning with no or very little debt. But they’ll also return with friends scattered across the globe, memories that will last a lifetime and an incredible array of stories, having seen, heard and tasted experiences many people couldn’t even imagine. Probably having matured and grown significantly as a person.
And you graduate in flip flops and shorts, not a gown and a cap!
Now that’s a seriously good investment in our eyes.
The first argument most pro university people will make is that uni makes you employable. Well to some extent yes – but like most things you learn in university this is a theory and can be proven wrong. If you honestly look at it, unless your job specifically requires a certain degree, then going to uni is a 3 year gamble.
In 3 years, if you’re actually driven to get the job, you could probably work your way up from an entry job to your desired position – and in the process you’ll have learnt a lot about the company, your colleagues and how the people who work underneath you operate. You have earnt your place in that job and you have the respect of your peers.
The same is true of a gap year – the skills you learn in both a professional and personal sense make you heaps more attractive to an employer and will command respect.
Here at Epic Gap Year we’d much rather employee someone who has had the drive and determination to save, plan and undertake an adventure off their own back – no matter what the length of time – over someone waving a piece of paper and expecting us to care!
And that’s not just because we are a travel company!
Not only will the gap year applicant stand out more in the pile of CVs, they will no doubt also be the most interesting, the person who will gel as part of a team of mixed individuals, who will think outside the box and who will launch themselves into the task and quickly adapt to changes and challenges.
A gap year doesn’t just make you the person who’s capable of doing the job – a gap year will make you into the person an employer WANTS to do the job.
In the end both a university degree and a gap year are useful experiences and both will teach you something. However, I can honestly say I’ve learnt more travelling the world than I ever did at university, that it was a better use of my money and that it has opened up far more doors than my degree ever has.
University may well be the route you ultimately decide to choose and you may do a gap year too – but all too often in the media the gap year is dismissed and under valued.
Don’t let anyone dismiss a gap year and travelling as simply an ‘easy option’. It’s far more valuable than people give it credit for.