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Is a gap year a good idea?

How do you take a gap year and then return to study feeling refreshed and recharged?

Dear Year 12 students,

Congratulations on finishing your high school education!

I'm sure you're all up-to-date with your TAFE enrolment details (if not, contact your Campus) and you've also checked your UAC preferences dozens of times. But just in case you're wondering where to go next after school, I've got a suggestion you might want to consider.

Okay, so we've all heard conflicting stories about people taking a "gap year". How it's worked brilliantly for some people who then go on and charge through their studies. And how for some others, they never quite seem to find the energy or enthusiasm to get back into studying.

Yes, it's true there has been some research that suggests deferring study for a year only leads to lost momentum and other negative consequences. But the good news is that recent studies here in Oz have found the exact opposite!

So how do you make it work?

How do you take a gap year and then return to study feeling refreshed and recharged and ready to get the most out of your course? What's the secret?

In short, the key to a successful gap year is to undertake the right type of activities. Fair enough, you might be thinking, but what type of things are the most beneficial if you're feeling, like, totally over the routine schedule of study and desperate to break free from it? There are lots of options - overseas travel, volunteer work, short courses - anything that interests you or pushes your boundaries.

The gap year is about...

Taking 12 months to actively explore who you are and what fascinates you in as many ways as you can. Through all of these experiences you will learn a lot about yourself and what you want to study next. These strategies work because they develop your capacity to think critically and enhance your cultural awareness and skills. To potential employers, who look for life skills and experiences as well as actual qualifications, these abilities are pure gold. So for job seekers, students who plan productive gap years often have an edge over others.

The prior knowledge and life experience you gain from a well-structured gap year also helps you maximise your success in further study. This is because your real life experience helps you connect more with your course and in creating a clear career direction.

The take home message?

Spending a gap year lazing on the couch or at the beach won't help you get back into the swing of study later. But if you crave new experiences to broaden your ideas and are willing to embrace adventure and open your eyes up to new career options, then book that trip, sign up for some volunteer work or pick up your closest TAFE course guide and enrol now!

And if you're still wondering which direction to take, TAFE counsellors can help you explore your options.  Make an appointment at your local Campus. You never know where it could take you.

Best wishes