Should I take a Gap Year before or after University?

So you have just left school, A Level certificates in hand (or framed in a safe place) and you’re either off to University or preparing to embark on your travel journey for X amount of months before deciding about University or job prospects. Congratulations, you are now about to step into the next chapter of your life.


Gap Year Before University

Deciding to take a year out after school and potentially before University is a courageous and exciting choice to make. Whether you plan to travel Europe, Asia, Australia or maybe parts of Africa, be sure to feel confident that upon your return you will feel refreshed with a bag load of memories, souvenirs and most likely a changed view on an array of aspects of life. There are solid reasons why taking a gap year to go travelling before University is an ever popular choice. It could be to see the world while you’re young, detached and carefree, and through being financially able to do and having the time to do so before securing a contracted job. It could similarly be to help you feel more confident as an individual, an adult, and someone who can take care of themselves while enjoying travelling and experiencing a range of cultures and beautiful sights.


Likewise, your travel intentions could take you to volunteer for 3-6 months with various charities, helping to build stable and worthwhile pillars of communities that really need the extra help. Not only do you get to take satisfaction, memories and sheer pride in humanity by working with a charity, be it teaching, coaching sport, or manual labour such as helping to create buildings that will later become schools, but you leave a legacy behind you when it is eventually time to return home. Who would not want that?

Gap Year After University

A great deal of people do not feel that, at 18, they are comfortably secure in venturing out into the ‘big wide world’, be it alone or even in a group. Where decisions such as friends not sharing the same passion for travel, or not having money, leaving a person alone in their quest for culture weight heavily down on the individual, sometimes the logical answer is to wait until after University.

In my opinion, travel does not have a time limit on it, if you feel ready to take a gap year after three or four intense years of studying and student life, then by all means you should follow it. The rush to find a job and get settled is intensifying annually, but realistically post-university is a good time to take the opportunity to go and see some more of the world that you desire. A lot of the time students feel they need the years at University to teach them how to be completely independent, and competent to stand on their own two feet. Not just by being able to wash clothes without staining the whole load pink, but by feeling reassured that (often) living away from home is not as daunting as it first appears. If you can make a life in a new part of the country as many students do, the same applies to another part of the globe.

Studying at University can help fuel the desire to travel and explore, while making new friends that potentially could feel the same. Not only could you find more about yourself as a person and your travel interests, but your new best friend from your halls could be your future travel companion. Like I say, there is no travel-by- date when it comes to being a student.

Whether you feel ready at 18 or need a bit more time to decide your intentions with your gap year abroad, the main thing is do not rush, and certainly do not panic. You know your gut instinct, and I know that at 18 I was not ready to take a Gap Year, I needed to go straight into the academic world of University where development does not just stop at academic strengthening but with you as a person.

Gap Years are going to change your life whether you take one before University or hopefully, going well, like me, after University. The world is not going anywhere in the scheme of a couple of years, so all I can say is travellers, whoever you are, however old you are, I hope you have a fantastic experience on your year of travel, the world is certainly your oyster.

Written by GYE writer Clare Dyckhoff.

  • Sindy
    Posted at 15:44h, 16 April

    I totally agree that a gap year can be needed very much. My son is going to graduate with a bachelors degree in Biology and a bachelors degree in Chemistry in just 3 years of college straight out of high school. He has worked his butt off to graduate with 2 degrees and a 3.9 GPA while working full time as well and he needs a rest. He really sees a gap year as a way to recharge himself before he spends many more years in school. He is so burnt out on school that I do not think he would be very successful if he went straight to med school so he is taking a year off and going to enjoy himself, hopefully travel, before he commits so many more years to his education.

  • BakoymaTravels
    Posted at 22:31h, 01 October

    “Not just by being able to wash clothes without staining the whole load pink” Good one ;-D

    I’m 34 and I’m starting to wonder if I should take a more permanent gap -now-. You’re right, travel has no time stamp or age limit, to each his or her own and in the end only you can know fully what is best for you.

    Great post, I’ll be sharing this 🙂

  • Bryan Desloge
    Posted at 18:28h, 26 October

    I’m 53 and have dreams about taking a gap year ? Any thoughts ?

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