Make it Worthwhile.

Grade 12 student, Hannah, contemplates what makes a good gap year trip in this opinion column

As the end of the school year is approaching, our Grade 12 students are starting to actively think about their coming years after high school. Yesterday, I had an interesting discussion with some of my classmates as they were excitedly sharing their plans for their gap year trips next year. Some are very motivated to learn a language, while others are planning on volunteering for various projects. A few simply just want to have fun, which I find very more than understandable as we definitely deserve some rest after finishing the IB.

However, hearing all these different ideas, made me think about what exactly a good or bad gap year trip is. Yes, as long as you find your gap year plans worthy, but surely there must be gap year trips to avoid? So what exactly defines a good gap year trip? 

Personally, I find it hard to say because what makes a gap year trip worthwhile is far from black and white. It may be different for everyone. Still, I think that what you gain helps to define whether good or bad. You may gain significant life experience, a new skill, or simply new knowledge. Volunteering for a program, for example, may help shape your view of the world, broaden your understanding. Learning a new language is always beneficial, so is gaining work experience in the field you may be interested in. What makes a good gap year trip is very flexible. As long as you do your research and are confident, it will have significance for you. 

Of course, there are some gap year trips to avoid. While I am of the opinion that having fun on your gap year trip is crucial and your number one priority, try to find that happiness while experiencing something useful. Definitely, lying laying on the beach is fun and relaxing, however, what good will it do if you waste a whole year laying around? I find it very important to carefully think about your gap year trip to avoid wasted experiences. I suggested volunteering, for example, as a worthwhile trip, but, of course, this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Whilst this, in my opinion, is a very inspiring gap year experience, it can, nevertheless, also quickly become a bad gap year trip. I strongly advise deepening your research, weighing the attributes and skills the program is looking for because what good will it do if you do not have the skills to help but instead only be slowing down everyone?

Now some advice on what to consider when you are choosing your gap year trip. Proper research is always a must. , you can never have enough information about your trip. Weigh the good and the bad. I very strongly advise you to think carefully about your choice. Volunteering is one example, are you sure your physical presence is needed, will you add significant value? Your possible university course is also always good to keep in mind. What is it that you want to study later? Look for trips that will expand your knowledge and give you authentic experiences to support your personal growth in that area. 

Gap year trips with clear goals can greatly develop you as a person which is also why it might increase your chances of getting into your dream university. Such gap year trips have the opportunity to broaden your horizons and give you real-life experiences. But remember to think before you act. Whilst many gap year trips have plenty of advantages, some trips just are not as beneficial as you think they are. That is why I am of the opinion that much thought needs to be put into the idea of your gap year trip before taking action. After that, enjoy your trip and experience a time to never forget!