Why taking a gap year before starting university is a good idea

@IE University

Although some students can’t wait to get started with their post-secondary education, others benefit from taking a year to get to know themselves and what they want from their academic and professional future.

There are plenty of benefits to taking a gap year between high school and university. Although some students can’t wait to get started with their post-secondary education, others benefit from taking a year to get to know themselves and what they want from their academic and professional future.

Jacob is one BBA student who decided to take a gap year before getting started at IEU. We had the chance to sit down with him to discuss why he decided to take a year off before starting university, and what he learned during this time.

Why did you decided to take a gap year?

I decided to take a gap year because I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life or what I wanted to study. I felt like there were more things that I wanted to do that I could have only done at that point of my life. I had applied to some universities but none of them really stood out for me. Ultimately, I decided to turn down the offers I had and take a gap year.  

Can you describe your gap year experience?

I think that there are two types of gap years: one where you do nothing, and one where you do what you’ve always dreamt of.

In high school, I visited Vietnam with my class to do some service work. I really enjoyed the experience and wanted to do more. When I graduated, I was living in South Korea with my family, so I decided to go to Cambodia for a month. I rented a motorbike and traveled to some of the most amazing places, including Angkor Wat and the floating villages. It was an incredible and humbling experience.

Of course, nothing is free, so I had to find ways to pay for my travels. I did everything from guitar lessons to football coaching to fund the trip. Eventually I was offered a part-time job and managed to make enough money to have fun. In the end, I realized that I couldn’t do much better than the job I had, so after two years I decided to go to university.

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How has your gap year experience helped you at university?

I believe the best thing I got out of my gap year was not having to ask myself that ‘what if’ question. I got to travel and do what I wanted, so I don’t have regrets going into my academic careers. This helped me feel focused from day one, whereas other people don’t figure it out until well into university.

Having a sense of direction has helped me to focus on the big picture. Rather than worrying about grades, I can focus on everything I can learn from each professor. It’s quite liberating because it puts things into perspective when things get stressful or overwhelming at school.

Would you recommend this experience?

I absolutely recommend taking a gap year. Whatever you do in your gap year, you will always come away with more knowledge, and be more focused when you decide to go to university. Although my gap year was actually two years long, I had the time of my life. I hope everyone at least considers the positive impact a gap year can have on your life.