When we mention gap years, we’re usually talking about that year straight after you finish Year 12. But gap years don’t have to be restricted to this little time period and it’s never too late to take a gap year.
There’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding gap years. Some people think they’re just a time to bludge and lose all your motivation to study. Other people think you have to go travelling, otherwise it’s not a legit gap year. Some don’t know what the fuck a gap year is in the first place or how to take one. And a lot of people think you can only take a gap year in the year straight after you finish Year 12, and that it has an expiry date of exactly 12 months.
It’s no surprise really. While we hark on about gap years a fair bit, your teachers and careers advisors probably don’t, and I doubt most parents are pushing their kids to take a year off.
But we like to make sure you know about all your options, and taking a gap year is definitely one of them, even if you’re not fresh out of high school.
Contrary to popular belief, a gap year isn’t dictated by set time lines, nor does it have an expiry date. If you miss the window straight after Year 12, it doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance to take some time off.
Because there’s so many reasons to take a gap year, it makes sense that some people would take them at different times. Some want a break from study and to manage the burn out of high school, some have itchy feet and want to see the world as soon as they’re free from their school timetable and some don’t know what the fuck they want to do so getting out there and seeing the world seems like a pretty damn good idea.
All these reasons (plus more) can pop up at different times during your life, which is why it’s never too late to take a gap year. Just because you’ve started something like a uni degree, working or a TAFE course doesn’t mean you have to stick it out till the end without a break. That’s why it’s always possible to defer, pause or take holidays and get into a gap year.
Then you’re free to do whatever you want. A gap year can mean whatever you want it to mean. You might spend some time pulling pints in a London pub between first and second year uni, jackarooing in the Northern Territory while you take some time off from your job or volunteering at your local footy club before starting a trade. Whatever you decide to do, know that there’s no time restrictions on it.
Once upon a time a gap year was seen as just something to get out of your system before you settled down into a normal life, pursuing education and career goals. Nowadays though, we know that a gap year doesn’t have to be just a distraction or a break (although, if that’s what you’re doing it for, go for it).
Instead, it’s a chance to build up valuable life experience, try new things and find what you’re passionate about and there’s no expiry date on growing up or seeing the world.