Overwhelmed with the past year of study, let alone 13 years of education? A gap year may be for you!

There’s no rush starting uni straight after the end of high school.

There are other options you can explore in a gap year including travelling, working, volunteering and more!

If this sounds like you, read on to hear the top 3 reasons you should take a gap year.

What is a ‘Gap Year’?
Reason #1: The experience is invaluable
Reason #2: You will feel much more committed to your study
Reason #3: You can take your time

What is a ‘Gap Year’?

For most students, the latter half of the final year of high school looks something like an emotional and academic hurricane of balancing preparation for their HSC exams with attempts to keep as tight a grip as possible on their sanity.

The submission date for UAC’s university application process often falls towards the end of September – right in the eye of the hurricane, between trials and the final HSC exams.

As a result, few students tend to find themselves with enough down-time at this point in the year to really ask themselves: should I go to university next year?

After having spent close to a decade-and-a-half in full-time schooling, many students transition seamlessly from the HSC to university degrees simply because it is what is ‘next’, because it is what is expected of them, or because the alternatives seem quite daunting.

Yet many (though certainly not all) of these students find themselves pursuing courses of studies about which they are not particularly passionate, simply coasting through their university degree.

Enter the gap year.

While it is far more common in England than here in Australia, many students still choose to spend the year after their HSC travelling, working, volunteering or pursuing some kind of non-academic endeavour rather than heading straight into a university degree.

A gap year is taken right after someone finishes high school, and they may take a year off before studying at uni to most often work or travel.

In many cases, taking a gap year can help you to gain a sense of perspective and focus and to learn more about yourself, your passions and what you want from your university experience.

If you’re the kind of person who isn’t sure exactly what they want to do after their HSC, here are three reasons that a gap year might be a great idea for you.

So, let’s jump into some reasons why you may want to take a gap year.

Reason #1: The experience is invaluable

The most valuable thing to be gained from a gap year is experience – whatever you spend your year doing, you are able to for the first time step completely outside of your school-shaped bubble and engage with different people in the outside world.

While some people are lucky enough to discover some dream passion during their time away from school, the most important things you can learn can often be the simple things:

  • What kind of schedule do you like to keep?
  • What kind of environment makes you feel most fulfilled?
  • What kind of balance do you need or want in your life?

Whether you spend your year travelling, working, volunteering or something else entirely, you will undoubtedly find yourself in a better position to answer these kinds of questions at the end of your experience.

They might not sound like particularly ‘big picture’ questions, but they can certainly begin to point you in the right direction in terms of what you might want out of your university study.

You might know, for instance, whether you want a very clear career path, or would rather pursue a degree where you acquire more broad skills that might be of use in multiple fields.

Reason #2: You will feel much more committed to your study

After a year spent doing something other than studying, you will to take ownership of whatever it is that you do after your gap year.

When you return to full-time study, it will feel so much more like a conscious choice.

Armed with a year’s worth of experiences, you have made the decision to return to study this particular thing, and so you are more likely to approach it with the kind of dedication and commitment that it requires to excel in a university requirement .

Especially when it comes time to apply for internships or graduate positions or PhD programmes and so on, most fields require you to have done more than simply pass if you wish to be competitive.

William Fitzimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard University, commented that after a gap year, he found that students were “so fresh, anxious, and excited to be back in school” and that “the feedback from students almost all the time has been that this experience was transformative. The more life experience you bring, the better off you are in school.”

Reason #3: You can take your time

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, although it sure doesn’t seem like it when you have finished school, there is really no rush at all!

The people that get the most out of their university study tend to be those people that are passionate about what they are doing.

In the grand scheme of things, being a year older means very little in the face of having a larger well of experience from which to draw, and a clearer sense of what you might want (or not want) to do either at university or beyond.

In short: if you’re not sure what to do – take a breather, see the world, do something and see if you have a better idea after that! At the very least you’ll have learned more about yourself and what you want from your university experience.

Looking for some extra help with your HSC studies?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at info@artofsmart.com.au or check us out on Facebook!


Travis McKenna has just finished a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Sydney, and will be heading over to Boston for Grad School in the near future. He enjoys learning languages, playing cricket and writing short stories.