See you in a year – I’m off to teach
If a student volunteers for a year, travels overseas or takes an internship for work experience, they’re said to have had a “gap year”. It might be a chance to learn new skills, test where interests lie, or learn about other cultures and languages.
As this poll result shows, the decision divides opinion as to whether it is helpful later in life, or if it sets the student back in comparison to their peers.
Of course individual circumstances will vary – different gap year experiences will offer different benefits to different people – but a UK study suggests it may actually tend to pay off in the long run.
Being well organised matters
Economist and writer Chris Dillow blogged for eZonomics that United Kingdom academics Ian Walker and Yu Zhu found people who take a gap year earn 25% more, on average, than people who don't.
He writes: “A well-organised year out (not one lazing in front of the TV) can boost self-confidence or language skills, or provide useful work experience.”
Non-earning years count
When calculating the cost of further study compared with going straight into work, the time spent not earning adds to the total cost (which includes tuition fees and more).
If possible, putting a regular saving plan in place several years before further education might reduce debt – and, importantly, interest paid on debt.
Careful budgeting and spending during those years can also reduce costs and perhaps make a gap year more easy to handle from a money point of view.