Young people will often question the option of taking a gap year. A gap year has many pros and cons that first must be considered and explored before committing to such an important decision. A thoroughly thought out, well investigated and well-developed gap year plan that involves in-depth discussions with parents and others can be a highly beneficial activity.
But often young people after year 12 feel they need a break without actually thinking this through and understanding what it means to take 12 months off from formal study or work. The risk of a 12-month break is that you may end up not leaving the couch playing computer games and left feeling dissatisfied with your life direction. You also are not upskilling yourself and developing your employability skills which can increase your risk of long-term unemployment.
The youth unemployment rate in Australia is extremely high at 13.48% for 2016 for young people aged 15 -24. These figures are projected to increase to 14.08% in 2020. Placing young people in the highest unemployment bracket increases their risk of long-term unemployment, feelings of hopelessness, reduced optimism for future success, low self-esteem, increased family conflict and homelessness.
Well planned and thought out gap years can be a great way to experience many new and exciting opportunities that will help you with selecting a study pathway as well as build on your employability skills. Many Gap Year programs that are available include volunteer programs, working in Australia, working overseas, travelling or overseas exchange. The Australia Defence Force even offers a gap year program. This program allows young people to experience what it would be like in the defence force for 12 months, before signing up for several years into a defence program. Universities also understand young people need opportunities to broaden their experiences and often offer overseas study exchange programs. It is crucial to take the time to exhaustively research all possibilities.
So what steps do I take?
First, remember that year 12 finishes at the end of November and most tertiary courses start around the beginning of March, giving you a three-month break. Use this time to relax, holiday, travel, work etc. Second, if you have a gap year program in mind research it well, attend the information sessions and talk with people about their experiences. Lastly, always have a BACK UP PLAN it is important to always keep your options open. This means taking the time to investigate future study options and consider putting in an application with a university. Many universities and TAFE institutions will allow you to defer your studies until the next semester or even the next year. This is a great back up plan and keeps your options open and your foot in the door. Most importantly, seek advice and support from a qualified Careers Practitioner at Transitional Support.