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7 Things to Consider Before Taking a Gap Year

Newsflash: a gap year is NOT a vacation!
ART Trixie Ison

During those moments when you're pretty much on the verge of ripping your hair out by the roots due to the mountain piles of paperwork, endless exams to study for, and dealing with terror professors, taking a gap year comes into mind. For most stressed-out students, a gap year brings about images of chilling at home and not having to wake up for morning classes the following day or not having to worry about submitting some overdue research paper. Given those fantasy images, taking a gap year looks like heaven, right? Okay, first of all a gap year is not a vacation. Far from it, actually. Contrary to what most people think, it isn't about taking a gap from receiving an education, but to actually fill in the knowledge gap that school doesn't, such as gathering work experience, exploring interests, volunteering, and travelling all over the world. It takes a lot of thinking, planning, commitment. Question is: Should you take a gap year? Don't worry because we're here to help you with this potentially life-altering decision. Read on, Candy Girls!

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  1. Are you doing this for all the right reasons?

    Okay, first of all, you need to know that it's not a vacation. If you catch yourself saying "this is the only time that I can be free," "I'm so stressed I need a break," or the ultimate "I'm too lazy to study," we suggest you reconsider taking a gap year because those are pretty much the absolute WORST reasons for such a big decision. Honestly speaking, you should be grateful that you're privileged enough to attend school. Make the most of it.

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  2. Do you have a battle plan?

    What do you plan on doing when you take a break from university? Travel? Study something else? Explore your interests? Volunteer? Surely it can't be just sitting around at home chilling. Your parents are working really hard to provide you with the best shot for a bright future. Imagine the disappointment in their eyes when you choose to take a gap year just to stay at home doing nothing?

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  3.  Are you aware of the possible transition difficulty that comes with taking a gap year?

    For some students it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things after taking a considerable amount of time from school. Some colleges and universities don't look kindly on a student's choice to take a gap year. Be aware of these so that you can make educated decisions. Also, are you okay with the idea of willingly allowing yourself to be a year behind your peers? They could already be taking graduation photos or stressing about job applications, while you're just about to begin again.

  4.  Do you know your options?

    During this time, we really encourage you to do something productive. You have several choices on how you'd like to spend it. Your school's guidance counselor can help you make a smart decision and build the foundation to make you a better, stronger, brighter person once you return to school.

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  5. Are you sure that a gap year really is for you?

    It isn't for everyone. Taking a gap year takes a lot of dedication, planning, commitment, and yes, a little money. Without your parents funding our daily baon (at least 80% of your finances come from them), you have to figure out how to make your own money to fund your own trips or activities. You can't rely on your parents forever. Develop your own independence during this time. Going on a gap year is a training ground to become more mature people once you return to your studies.

  6. Have you done your research?

    Have you checked if your local animal shelter or rescue group is still accepting new volunteers? If you wish to travel, how do you plan on funding your trips? Taking a gap year can be a little expensive (but not necessarily so; it's much cheaper than paying tuition fees) but depending on how you spend it, it can be well worth it.

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  7. Have you talked to your parents about taking a gap year?

    Last but not least, have you talked to your parents about it? Some parents are quite supportive and push you to go for your gap year, but some parents wish you'd finish your studies first instead. Whatever the reason may be, just sit them down and talk to them. They want nothing more than the best for you and your future. While the decision is still yours to make, always consider what your parents have to say about it.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Leave a message and let's talk!

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About the author
Daryn Agapay
Candymag.com Correspondent
As a certified Candy Girl, I constantly push myself out of my comfort zone to experience all the adventure life can bring and to pour my heart out into everything I do. If I'm not writing, you may find me obsessing about cats, latte art, fashion, books, or french fries.
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