Thinking of taking a Gap Year? Read this before you make your decision

If you're thinking of taking a gap year, there are many aspects you need to consider before diving right in. We walk through 4 major points to guide you in making the best decision for yourself.

25 days ago   •   4 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Cole Keister / Unsplash

After the stress and hard slog of Year 12, most graduates are ready to crawl into the fetal position in their bed and sleep for 48 hours straight. For some, the thought of finishing 13 years of school only to go straight into another 4+ years of university is absolutely abhorrent. For others, they are excited for the opportunity to finish their degrees as soon as possible, and be on track to their dream career path as quickly as they can.

As we all know, people take gap years for many different reasons, such as travel, saving money and working, internships, and some hopeful Med applicants even take gap years to give the UCAT another shot.

Here are some things to consider prior to your decision!

1. Travel

After all the stress and excessive amount of work completed during the HSC, many students aren’t ready to commit to another few years of vigorous work at university. Many just want to relax and enjoy some time with no study required or commitments.

Consequently, if you find yourself in the position that you want to enjoy some time off instead of going straight to university, you might be thinking of taking a gap year to travel.

You may be fast to say you want to take a gap year to travel, however, it is important to consider that this would involve over 12 months of travel. Are you truly intending to travel for 12 months? Can you afford to spend 12 months overseas?

These are important questions to consider first as when some people truly start to think about it, they may find it difficult to do so for that long.

The holidays between completing the HSC and most universities commencing are 3 months! Hence, if your intention is to travel, you may not necessarily have to take a whole gap year since that is a significant amount of time to travel.

Even if this isn’t enough, or you may want to travel in European summer, you can take the first semester off and commence in session 2. This would provide the opportunity to have a lot of time to wind down or travel for a significant quantity of time whilst getting a kickstart at University during the same year. This is a great option if you would love to take a gap year to travel but don’t want to delay commencing University by a whole year.

2. Saving Money and Working

Whether it is that you are becoming financially independent or want to save up for your own car, you may be considering delaying starting University in order to work full time to save some money.

If this is the case, have you considered doing a degree part time? This would provide you the ability to work lots of hours part time whilst completing half the amount of work that you would normally complete in your degree each semester. I’ve been at University for almost 2 years now (full time) and I’ve had a maximum of 2 days of classes, enabling me to fit working about 25 hours a week!

Alternatively, if you require work in order to save money but would like to commence studying as soon as you’ve finished HSC, many universities offer scholarships for financially disadvantaged students. Moreover, you could apply for government assistance.

If you find yourself just wanting to take a gap year to work as an opportunity to delay going back to study and exams and don’t want to take a whole 12 months off, you can also consider starting in session 2. In most universities operating by semesters, this would mean starting at the end of July/start of August, giving you 9-10 months of working from the day you finish HSC exams.

3. Getting Industry Experience

Whether you aren’t entirely sure if your chosen degree is an industry you will enjoy working in, or if you want to try working in a few industries to determine what field you would like to study, you may be considering taking a gap year to get industry experience.

This is a great idea to determine where you would like to work in future instead of realising you don’t like your chosen industry after finishing your degree. However, many of those positions are reserved for students completing degrees in the field as this is highly favourable for applicants.

During a gap year, the easiest way to get industry experience would most likely be volunteering which may not include as many hours as an internship and this does not require a delay in commencing tertiary studies.

4. Trying to get into Medicine/Dentistry

The entry requirements and assessment process for medicine and dentistry in Australia is known to be extremely challenging and may mean not being accepted straight after high school. You may be thinking about taking a gap year to study for the UCAT and prepare for interviews.

Although taking a gap year is a great opportunity for you to prepare for the UCAT, this may not be the best decision for you if you don’t have any other commitments during this period. The reason I mention this is because leading up the UCAT, you would have a few months of free time to spend studying for one exam. This may lead to an immense amount of procrastinating due to recognising the significant amount of free time you have.

If you struggle with procrastination, you could also consider completing part-time university. This means that you would have half the units, providing enough time to study, whilst commencing your back up degree if medicine doesn’t work out. This will enable you to continue trying without feeling as though you haven’t done anything else and feeling like you wasted a whole year. Even during the course of the degree, you can continue reattempting the UCAT. This could at least put you at ease, knowing you have a backup career path.


Written by KIS Academics Tutor Sandrine Maximous, for HSC Legal Studies, maths and more! Sandrie is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies and Information Technology (majoring in Data Science) at MQU. You can view Sandrine's profile here and request her as a tutor.

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