Gap year: advantages and disadvantages

The sabbatical year is a time that you can make the most of to travel, train, help and undertake. There is still a prejudice around him, but the decision is yours alone.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on October 03, 2021.

Last update: 03 October, 2021

Sooner or later, at some point in life you need a break. Upon leaving college, graduating from college, after working hard, or whenever the body calls for it. From that need arose the idea of ​​the sabbatical year.

Far from what many think, this year is not a wasted period. On the contrary, it can serve to regain focus.

In fact, some use it to save money, gain work experience, travel or do some kind of social work. It is a very personal and important decision, so it is necessary that you know the pros and cons of doing it.

Advantages of a sabbatical year

Let's look at some known benefits of taking a year off.

Lets get a job

In the case of those who have just graduated from school, the sabbatical year is perfect to debut in the labor field. In this way, it is easier to define tastes, skills, passions and interests. This prevents making the mistake of entering the wrong career.

In this sense, there are internships and volunteer programs that give the opportunity to experience what certain professions consist of. On the other hand, there are the savings that you can obtain by working. Said income will be used to travel, pay for university, cancel loans or give you whatever pleasure you have pending.

Serves to expand the curriculum

Taking a year off does not mean losing 365 days. Through a new job or a course, for example, the curriculum synthesis will grow.

What's more, every activity you do will be helpful in shaping your character, polish yourself in some aspect, strengthen your teamwork skills and much more. Even trips abroad will have weight when applying for a university place or a job. Did you know?



Give time to think

Where I am? Where do I want to go? What do I need in my life? These are some questions that are often pondered during this season. It is interesting to see how the answers to these simple questions can change the course of everything, since many people study something that they do not like, they graduate, but they are dissatisfied.

Now you will understand why after a sabbatical year it is common for couples to break up, move, change jobs and careers. The truth is true personal interests, passions, hidden talents and even frustrations. Give yourself space to think!

The sabbatical year often brings deep decisions later because we had time to think and meditate.

Give away freedom

The rigidity of time and space is often very oppressive. So now is the time to make the most of life. If you have the good fortune to take a year off, Do not lose this chance!

Encourage maturity

The sabbatical year turns into a encouragement to reach maturity in every way. It's great for learning how to commit to what matters, set priorities, and start working on each one.

It is ideal for traveling

The desire to go on a trip does not have to be left alone in dreams. During a sabbatical year you can visit that destination that you have always had in mind, but that for different reasons you have not been able to know.

Great news is that there are certain specific gap year volunteer programs that include group trips and adventures. It is in your hands to choose between Europe, Latin America, Asia, Oceania or Africa.

You will meet new people and cultures

Interacting with new people, with cultures and traditions very different from yours, is another point in favor. Perhaps one of the most interesting.

Most likely you feel more identified with your place of origin and, at the same time, discover how much you have in common with people from other corners of the planet.

Disadvantages of a sabbatical year

Just as there are advantages to a gap year, there are also some cons that are better to know. Let's go to them.

It is a source of criticism

In general, you must be prepared to receive criticism before the decision to take a sabbatical year. If you are young, your parents will be concerned about your college fate. Or maybe your friends will think that you will be left behind. When you are in these scenarios, be patient!

However, do not expect anyone's approval for anything in the world. It is your life, your process and your choice. Avoid arguing or getting frustrated with a person who doesn't understand your motivations.



You could lose the north on the sabbatical year

If you have no objectives, in the worst scenario you can lose your way. In fact, one of the risks is that the gap year will be extended by distractions along the way. Remember that one of the intentions is to clear your mind.

The fact that you do not see the future clearly, far from harming yourself, should become an impulse to try the new: people, places, jobs, ideas, goals.

Given this, a useful recommendation is that you start by writing down a couple of resolutions that you aspire to achieve before culminating with the sabbatical year. In this way, you will have focus and develop self-awareness.

Certain places are very expensive

Being realistic will help you differentiate between what is available to you and what is not. Admittedly, more than one person sighs thinking about their dream trip, but they can't reach it when they want to due to lack of money. And it is that the cost of some destinations is enormous.

However, you have the opportunity to work, exchange jobs, apply for a bank loan, a loan to a relative, a scholarship or travel as a backpacker to materialize that dream. Shuffle all the options!

Emotionality can work against

If you are the only one going on a gap year in your group of friends, it's easy to feel like you don't fit in or that you're left out. Seeing that each one begins a new stage and you are still in the same place, doubts will not wait.

Consequently, before making the decision you must be clear that it is not about others, but about you. Take refuge in the tranquility of knowing that you are where you want and how you want.

Open up to new friends, without neglecting communication with old ones. Stay in touch with your family in case you are away.

If you travel, you will not be able to carry all your things

Your appliances or all the clothes you like will not fit in your luggage if you choose to go on a journey. Even if you miss them, look on the bright side: you will not be clinging to the material.

Tips for taking a gap year

Some tips may help you if you plan to take a year off. In that case, these recommendations may be useful to you and are the following:

  • Make sure you want to: You must be convinced to take a year off because it is not about one night, but about a whole year. Don't act on impulse!
  • Reflect it in your curriculum synthesis: Although many employers recognize the benefits of a gap year, others do not. In this order of ideas, your task is to reflect this season within your curricular synthesis in an appropriate way.
  • Value each experience in the gap year: You will live good and bad moments, but the important thing is to value them and discover the learning that is hidden in each of them.
  • Thoroughly research your careers of interest: one of the ways to take advantage of the sabbatical year is to investigate in detail the careers that catch your attention. Visiting universities, taking part in some classes as a listener and talking with students are tasks that suit you.
  • Follow a routine during the gap year: organization is essential to perform at your best on your sabbatical. Make your own routine, with suggested times, in order to avoid falling into idleness.
Even if you travel, try to maintain routines on your gap year so that you make the most of the time.

Ideas to inspire you to a gap year

There are plenty of reasons to have a sabbatical year. Here are some ideas that can make you fall in love even more with this season:

  • Travel to one or more destinations: this is one of the main reasons. Everyone has a favorite destination. Live this extraordinary experience, meet, explore, learn languages ​​and taste a new gastronomy.
  • Volunteer: Programs dedicated to volunteering represent a great option that favors a community and volunteers, inside or outside your country.
  • Perform practices in the sabbatical year: it is one of the best opportunities to gain experience and reinforce your skills. It is a training to stand out in the jobs that come in the future.
  • Establish a business: If the idea of ​​entrepreneurship has been around in your head for a long time, don't think twice! Get to work, even if you don't have too much capital to invest. Create your strategy, look for financing, professionals to advise you and give shape to that great project.

Enjoy your gap year!

Definitely, the sabbatical is a great time for quiet, self-knowledge, giving, receiving, releasing, exploring and deciding. Be active every day, willing to be the best version of yourself. It's now or never!