When is the best time to take a gap year?
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When is the best time to take a gap year?

Wondering when is the best time to take a gap year? Should you take a year between the end of high school and college, or should you wait until after you’ve finished your post-secondary training? Is it too late to get out into the world now that you’ve been working for a decade?

Below, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each period of life when gap years are commonly taken.

Between high school and college

Those fresh out of high school are perceived to lack life experience – as such, it may seem foolhardy leave your home country in search of the unknown.

However, for those in the UK, the EU, and Australia, the period between secondary school and university is when most travelers from these countries set out to discover the world. If they can dive straight into a foreign country at this age and not only survive but have the best time of their lives, so can you.

At this point in your life, you have no responsibilities tying you down – college hasn’t begun yet, you don’t have kids or a house to care for, and so forth. Viewed in this light, traveling the globe before university is the best time to take a gap year.

With no worries clouding your head, you’ll be able to soak up the lessons life on the road can teach you. You’ll learn and absorb concepts better than any textbook you’ll read, leaving you with a confidence that will help you immensely upon your return home.

One of the biggest cons: saving money can be tougher, as the pool of jobs and wages for youth are smaller than those available to older age groups. However, with diligent saving habits and free room and board provided by your parents, you can save up enough to go on a sizable trip in a matter of months.

During summer break in college

Summers between undergrad years can be the best time to take a gap year for some students

For most college students, summers are spent working in an effort to save up money for school, hopefully, in a field related to the degree they are working on. If you focus on saving money through an on-campus job during the school year, though, you can use one of the summer breaks during your undergrad years to get out into the world for a few months.

This is a great option for those who reel at the thought of spending an entire year away from home but are still interested in seeing how life is lived on the other side of the globe. While you are away, doing things like volunteering abroad and learning a new language which helps tighten up your resume.

Then again, there’s the risk you may get hooked on life abroad, which could lead you to suspend schooling, wasting the time and money spent pursuing the program you were in.

After college graduation

Many Americans and Canadians elect to take their gap years shortly after graduating with their undergraduate or masters degree. Seeing this time as their best chance to take advantage of their youth before diving into a career, the majority of peers you’ll meet abroad will be in their early to mid-20s.

It is a great time to travel with friends you met in college, as this may be the last time you’ll be able to spend time together before you go your separate ways in life.

Also, you’ll get one last chance to add skills and experiences to your CV by learning things and helping out non-profit organizations overseas, making after college arguably the best time to take a gap year.

Between careers

Any time can be the best time to take a gap year

Think you missed the boat when it comes to gap years because you didn’t do it when you were younger? It’s never too late to shake up your life by taking a sabbatical from your career.

While they may involve getting out of your comfort zone by proposing an extended break from your job to your boss, the process will build the courage muscle within you and once you are out on the road, you’ll question everything you’ve done in your life to date.

There is a risk that doing this will blow up your career, but it can also lead to lasting change that will irreversibly change your future for the better.

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