My Gap Year was the best thing I have ever done.
It might not have been the most epic adventure anyone has ever had, but those 15 months in between me finishing college and starting university prepared me for the last three years more than anything else could have.
Now, I was pretty lucky in that I never had to do any persuading in order to get my parents on side. If they ever had any qualms about me deferring my UCAS entry, they kept schtum. Mainly because I think they knew they didn’t have a hope in hell’s chance of convincing me that it wouldn’t be anything less than awesome.
So, even though I didn’t have to try any of these myself, I do consider my gap year to have been a pretty successful one. I’d like to think I can offer a few tips to try to convince your parents that yours will be just as fantastic.
1. Show how serious you are.
One of your parents’ main concerns might be that you’ll spend the next year dossing and not doing anything. Whether you want to take a gap year to work or travel, start planning. Involve them in your planning. Start applying for full time jobs as early as possible and if you already have a part time job, ask about the possibility of getting extra hours. I was so lucky that my Saturday job turned into a full time job for me over my gap year. Show them all the articles (including this one) you’ve been reading about why gap years are amazing!
2. All that seriousness leads to life skills.
Planning and researching is a great skill to have. Working towards a goal and saving – tick off another skill box. Going to countless interviews – you’re getting better every time. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have said to me whilst I’ve been at uni, “Just you wait until you’re working full time”. I smile to myself because I’ve already spent 11 months working full time, I know how that feels.
3. You become a lot more independent.
However you travel, whether it’s on your own, with your mates or on a guided tour, you’ll be out there in the big wide world, without mummy and daddy. For some, it might be like jumping in the deep end, but you know what, you’ll swim. Fending for yourself isn’t that hard when you’re made to do it. You will be capable of finding a roof to go over your head for the night, you will be capable of feeding yourself.
4. You learn about money management.
This is great if you’re heading off to university, where you definitely need to budget. You need to work out how much of your monthly pay you need to save and how much you can spend. You have to be restrained and make sacrifices to make sure you can save that much. Once you are travelling, you need to use that same money brain to make sure you don’t go broke 5 minutes into your trip. Working really hard to save for your travels sucks when all your friends are posting photos of their fresher’s week on Facebook, you need some grit and determination. Think how proud your parents will be!
5. Gaining confidence.
Looking back now, I can’t imagine how 18 year old me would have coped at university. I could be painfully shy and generally had no confidence in myself. When I started the next year, I was much happier, much more assured and so much more confident. Of course I was still worried about making friends (isn’t everyone?!) but from throwing myself out of my comfort zone during my gap year, I knew I could do it. I never, ever, spoke out in class when I was at school or college, now you can’t hold me back from a debate in a seminar.
Most (if not all!) parents send you off to uni expecting that you’ll get a job when you’re finished. Everything I’ve already mentioned adds up to make a nice rounded person with lots of transferable skills that employers are looking for. Sometimes I think without my gap year, I would struggle with what to talk about during interviews. Generally I’ll use lots of examples from when I was working full time to answer the interviewers questions. They’ve also been open in the past to hearing about situations on my travels where I faced a challenge. When I interviewed to volunteer at the London Olympics, they wanted me to tell them about a time when I had gone out of my way to help someone and I had plenty of examples to pick from (travellers watch out for other traveller’s backs, yo!).
7. If your parents are worried about your safety…
Think about joining a group tour, even if it’s just for the first few days of your travels. You could meet some great people to continue travelling with. The guide could be awesome and give you loads of insider information, you never know. I’ve already written a post on the pros and cons of joining a group tour, check it out and see what you think!
Good luck to everyone getting their results tomorrow and especially good luck to those who are still convincing their parents about gap years! Just do it!