ANALYSIS: Acceptances are rolling in from post-secondary institutions as high school students get ready to embark on the next leg of their education journey. But not so fast. The idea of taking a year off – commonly call the gap year – is gaining traction.
This year off typically happens between high school and university or college. It has long been the tradition in Europe and is now gaining traction in North America. The question is: Does this make sense and what do you do during the year?
If the goal is to hang out in your parents’ basement watching Netflix, then taking the gap year is not likely the best decision. However, if you take the time to examine your intentions and evaluate how you might see your life unfolding, this could be the new definition of the “golden year.”
Sure, there are the common sense elements surrounding a year off. You have an opportunity to shore up finances, volunteer your services and grow in terms of maturity. In fact, some statistics indicate those who took a year off did better academically – and even found job placement more easily down the road, as the experience gained outside the classroom gave them a competitive edge.
But I think it is even more than this.
I had the opportunity while doing research for a book called Get Real to chat with women across the country asking them to define success. What did success look like to them? Here is what I found. Success is defined by the individual. It isn’t one size fits all. For some, it would be climbing the corporate ladder. For others, starting their own business or choosing to give back to society. Regardless of how they defined success, they all embedded the following themes in their definitions:
- Follow your passion. Get excited about what you do and tackle each day with boundless enthusiasm.
- Have no regrets. Make informed decisions and accept that not every decision will be the right one. But learn from it.
- Play to your strengths. Focus your energy on ways to get better at what you think you are already good at.
- Believe in lifelong learning.
Here is what you don’t want: Your gap year to be a gap in your resume. Use the gap year as an opportunity to get focused. It doesn’t really matter whether the decision is to travel, volunteer or take up an internship. It is a time of exploration. In many ways, it could be the gift you give to yourself that keeps on giving throughout your life.
As the Chief Financial Commentator for CTV News, Pattie Lovett-Reid gives viewers an informed opinion of the Canadian financial climate.