Is a Gap Year Really Worth It??

“Oh my God, I have no clue what I am doing with my Life!”

Me too love! Nevertheless I have literally been back at year 13 for just over two weeks and I have already got to a stage where I want to ban the letters A,B,C,D and E from the alphabet! Though we know that grades don’t really define our lives as much as some think they do, and they certainly don’t define ourselves! Yet the question still arises as to what to do after we finish A levels, with one of these options being a gap year.

Now most years, year 13s would picture a gap year as almost some tropical fantasy, going from beach to beach, clambering over numerous rocky mountains and discovering amazing wildlife. Including as newts, while probably getting as pissed as one! But of course, it is going to be expensive. Very expensive. And unless you have very rich parents or parents who are going to spoil you sick, or that you are doing so much paid work that you would end up failing your A levels, Period. But this year, even with unlikely prospect of families offering up a lot of money, we have another limitation. Covid-19. Meaning that our gap year would most likely be spent watching everyone else go off to university while we are stuck at home. Sigh…

So how common are gap years and what is the use of them? As it does look as if they have been on the rise, but in actual fact it is estimated that about 3% of freshmen take a gap year”. While it sounds fun, the estimated cost is between £3000 and £4000, making it a difficult option for the average student as I have already mentioned!

Furthermore I personally find (though I could be wrong) that there is this kind of stigma associated with going on a gap year, because people think that they are a waste of time, and that they are only for very wealthy privileged students. In this way we can understand why there may be some backlash. For instance Malia Obama’s decision to embark on a gap year before joining university, provoked much discussion. With there being some controversy, raising questions to whether it is just a “luxury for the rich“. However due the number of advantages taking a gap year has, and the amount of maturity people attain from taking one, it it is felt that they “are not just for rich kids anymore”. Remembering that there’s also opportunities to go on “working holidays” abroad, or simply do a job at home.

Though when thinking about it, it is not surprising that students who have taken a gap year return to university far more mature than those who haven’t. Thinking that from the age of 4 (or 2 if you count nursery) to 18 you are trapped within the system of (mainly) academic education. And while from 16 there is the opportunity to partake in an apprentice, the mainstream route to university is via A levels. Sadly the education system does focus very heavily on academic achievement, from the importance of SAT testing at 11, to the new and much harder 9-1 GCSE grading system. Therefore having the opportunity to go on a year’s long adventure, while probably attaining a completely new outlook on life, is bound to mean that a student will return to the education system, much more mature.

With programs offering opportunities ranging from helping to build infrastructure projects in poor areas, helping deprived children or even helping endangered animals (forget my joke about newts), the advantages are pretty apparent.

Though sadly the volunteering industry does have its issues, with some questioning whether it is appropriate for anyone to be using their services at all. For a start it is worth billions, which exploits people paying immense sums of money to be part of them. Meanwhile often the programs aren’t at all productive, such as in that certain infrastructure is built in where there is the equivalent to that near by. Furthermore those running the programs often lack the understanding of the culture in that area in order for them to help the people in a sufficient way. But at the same time, often these projects do result in successes, though I would advise (from a background of limited knowledge) that it is best to do a little research into the sort of program you would like to do, before embarking on anything.

But with this in mind, the matter of needing certain amounts of money is not going to go away! Yet a gap year isn’t necessarily something that you need to pay for at all, but rather the opposite. Yes, you could choose to go on a paid gap year, and while the experiences aren’t going to be quite the same, it will still be something of worth- totally different to anything experienced beforehand.

Now it is all the worthwhile arguing out both sides on whether having a gap year is good or not, though it can still seem very hard to reach a conclusion. Because while we want the experience of a lifetime, we don’t want to make a naive decision and we may not want to feel “left behind either”. Though depending on who you are, this doesn’t have to be the case. In this sense, it depends on the person as to whether the benefits of a gap year outweigh the costs. While I would agree that you don’t have to be super rich to be able to go on a gap year, as the nature of them does vary, though saying this if someone has a lot of money they are not going to be as limited.

Though sadly it is true that next year it may be more difficult to embark on a gap year because of the travel restrictions and the rather high potential chance that many of the programs are likely to be cancelled.

So there are so many positive and negative sides to doing a gap year, however I would argue that attaining this experience, whether it is from a year out, a few years out, or odd scattered months out, it is an experience that would be very valuable at some point in life. The stigma attached to them may be true to some degree, in about them being expensive as well as the fact that not all programs are always fully effective. Yet the money situation should not put anyone off, because if it is something which one is passionate about, then it is critical to do whatever that can be done to make it happen. Even if it consists of quite a bit of paid work while travelling. And while the industry of volunteering is quite rightly a concern, programs should be compared to find which programs are more “legit”. Finally a gap year does not have to be a year straight after sixth form, but it could be at whatever time that suits.

Published by Personally_Political

Hello! This is a mainly a blog containing posts concerning social, political and economic issues, although the commentary is mainly based on opinion. My name is Victoria, and I am the creator and currently the only contributor to this blog, and I am 19 years old and studying PPE at Swansea. Also, I am currently looking for writers for here, content creators on Instagram and designers. However the role would be very flexible according to what you would like to do. Therefore, if you or anyone you know would be interested in getting involved, then please don't hesitate to contact me at

15 thoughts on “Is a Gap Year Really Worth It??

  1. As you wrote about travelling on a gap year, covid came to mind. It really is a tricky one in that I feel like more people want to take a gap year because they don’t feel safe enough to go to uni, nor do they want to have their uni experience ruined and learn online at home. I do feel for any students!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m also just started year 13, and you’ve perfectly encapsulated the issues I’m having regarding taking a gap year. With the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and brexit, it’s unfortunately really hard to justify taking one if there’s a chance I might get stuck at home. I now hope to take one after uni instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I had an option for a GAP year during my time to discover the world and myself but it’s straight to college , post grad then work. I think if there’s a chance to discover what we really want , we should take it . Of course , circumstances can be different for everyone and we always weigh the pros & cons. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our niece didn’t want to take a gap year, but was forced to for economic reasons. She started college this month with money in her pocket from working, and a years worth of life experience under her belt. It wasn’t a tropical beach vacation but the experience served her well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never really had the opportunity to take a gap year, but about the age of 29 when I would finally drop everything and take a month off in Thailand, I actually wished that I had done it sooner. So to me, taking time off is always worth it, gap year or not. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think some people are just burned out on school after high school and taking a bit of time off can actually keep them from ending up quitting school for good. Especially if they have to work full-time too to support themselves or their families. It is a hard decision to make in some ways, as there might be lost momentum and it can be easy to keep putting going back off, but on the other hand, if used well, a break can be great.


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