Schools out-Now for a Gap Year???

So school is out, exams are over, scores are out and kids and parents alike are anxiously awaiting university offers.

It’s time to think about the future.

Plan A, Plan B and even option C are all under consideration and more than ever I am hearing parents say, “insert name, is taking a gap year.”


When I left school, a gap year was something exotic and exclusive.

It meant travelling overseas and was typically reserved for the kids with rich parents who went to private schools.

If you didn’t go to university or college, you just got a job.

A handful from my grade left school and went on the dole.

We used to, inappropriately or not, refer to them as dole bludgers, now labelling them as on a gap is more acceptable.

These days a gap year could be described as anyone NOT going on to further studies.

And some are still notching up gap years well into their twenties.

It is a new social trend and well entrenched on the after school curriculum, as common as schoolies, not just for the affluent and a course of action parents are confused about.


Should teenagers go straight to tertiary institutions and perhaps run the risk of burn-out or drop out, if they find their selected field of study isn’t really what they want to do with the rest of their life?


Would the study habit disintegrate if they took a break and the gap widens to become a crevasse?

If at the end of school your child isn’t certain about a career path should they accept a placement offer and go to university anyway or would earning money in a job they didn’t enjoy provide the motivation to return to study?

What about if a gap year became a gap decade?

And what should a parent do?

Should you insist your child goes to uni or urge them to take some time?

As a parent of five girls, with the last anxiously awaiting a tertiary offer, I can tell you the decision isn’t easy and isn’t the same.

Here are my case studies:


  1. The last of my daughters has proclaimed if she doesn’t get her first choice of university placement she’ll take a gap year. (Neither of us is sure exactly what that will look like)
  1. The second youngest has just completed one year of university study and passed, but isn’t sure she likes the course she’s chosen so is now keen to take a gap year and work in hospitality overseas. Will she return to study or find the money more appealing?


  1. One daughter started university and after six months deferred. She is now alternating fulltime work here at home (fortunately in the area she started studying) with working holidays in ski fields. Next stop Nozawa in Japan.

And even though she has asserted, “I don’t want to be 25 and still be a liftie,” like some of those she has met in the snow and that she will at some point “return to study”, there is a niggle it may be a difficult transition.

  1. The second eldest studied fulltime, then went on exchange to Canada. She took six months off to travel Europe before returning to Australia and landing an internship in her chosen field and studying part-time. She is now working fulltime in Melbourne in HR, and has indicted she wants to further her studies.IMG_8719
  1. The eldest continued on straight from school with study and is working fulltime, also in Melbourne, but hasn’t undertaken any travel.

So which is the best option?

Straight to study or further learning?

Start at tertiary then take a mid-way break?

Or back up from schoolies with a gap year?

Will the eldest regret not having taken the opportunity to travel or work when she was younger and learn some of those skills you can’t learn in a classroom?

Or is further study even a consideration? Some kids just don’t want a career launched from academia.

I’ve always been a big believer in going straight from school to study. I worried the kids wouldn’t return to the regime and routine of study and miss out on the opportunities that presented from the best possible education we could provide.


So far I think all five are finding their way at this early stage of their lives.

Each has proven to have a good work ethic, landing two or even three jobs to raise and save the money they needed to take their trips or pay for their studies.

They are asserting their independence (even though I hate to see them go and want them to leave at the same time) are making good decisions and some mistakes, both of which are laying the slab for solid life footings.

Bottom line, I can steer, advise, imply, suggest, cajole, comfort and push and I certainly have with much of my prodding paying off, but ultimately there’s not a one-fits-all direction.

You can hope they choose the right path, and I’m not saying don’t be involved and invested, but it’s their path so perhaps they should have a choice in when to set off on it, what speed and which way.

And the good news.

If they do take a gap year somewhere exciting you can always go and visit.

Nozawa in Japan is booked!













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