Nationwide, NCEA students are approaching the halfway mark on the year and whilst many people, especially those in year 13, are excited to finish the year – it can come with great stress and a new sense of responsibility. This is because, for those finishing school this year, we are unsure of what life will hold for us on the other end and what truly is the right decision for us. This can be one of the most difficult decisions of our lives and it is only made harder by the increasing pressures from the stakeholders around us: our parents, university advertisements and our schools continuously telling us we need to decide. Whilst, any of us will inevitably decide to go to university or join apprenticeships to avoid the risk of failure, there is a third option that is often portrayed to us as controversial. This is taking a gap year between high school and university, that enables us to take time off from our education for 12 months to explore our life options. However, is it really a good idea?

In my opinion, taking a gap year seems like one of the best things a person can do, but this is from a bias perspective due to myself being in year 13 and making the decision to spend a year abroad. However, I did choose this decision based on a plethora of reasons. To me, it seemed like an opportunity to escape as quickly as possible, as I have spent thirteen years in the education system of New Zealand and I am ready to find out more about the world. Whilst, it is possible to wait till after university – a gap year will provide me with a way to clear my head and truly be able to breath nature again without the stress of exams or internals. I feel as if it will allow me to start again and get away from the life I have now because although I do love the country, there are many things that I could find better when backpacking across the globe.

Despite, myself seeing a gap year as a purely positive decision, it is also important to look at this from the elder’s perspective of whom will inject us with a sense of reality. This is obvious but with a gap year comes costs. I have been lucky in taking the opportunity to create a business in school that has allowed me to bring the funds together, however, I understand that not everyone has had my opportunities and so it is sometimes difficult or even impossible for some people to take a gap year. Nonetheless, I am only talking in regards to a travelling gap year and for all people it is still possible to take a working gap year, taking on range of local jobs for full time. This is still a great way of releasing the mind’s stress and building up our character to become a changed person when we do enter our education again.

Overall, looking at both the positives and negatives of a gap year, I have found that the advantages appear to outweigh the disadvantages. I have shared how it will help me clear my mind and I believe it will help me take on a better understanding of the world around me that will also help me when university season comes around. At the same time, this is not always possible to travel for some people and I recognize that not all of us can afford this. However, this does not have to be a set back and for some, you could even work in your local Pak n Save. Even this would help you take a break from schooling systems and help you to find who you are and what exactly you want in the upcoming future without being rushed into it!

Will Cole is a year 13 student with a passion to write and is pursuing a career in journalism. When he’s not at school, he runs the communications for his healthcare business www.clearfree.co.nz with two friends. See his weekly blog pieces here where he talks about the journey of a young entrepreneur and New Zealand’s current affairs.

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