Despite the growing popularity of gap years, we’re aware of many common myths that still make people hesitate before taking the gap year trip of a lifetime.
As schools and universities chase higher rankings in the league tables, it can be easy for them to lose sight of the fact that students are going through years of extensive personal growth. They forget that a gap year can really accelerate that development to a whole new level.
But a gap year can be the most important year of your life.
The skills you’ll gain in a short period of time are totally unique, and will set you apart from the rest of your year group, giving you that all-important competitive edge.
We’re concerned about the number of rumours and misconceptions holding people back, so let’s bust open the most common myths about gap year travel!
Myth #1 — A gap year has to be a year long
No it doesn’t!
The name ‘gap year’ can be misleading, and it’s no surprise that this is a common myth. In reality, a gap year can be whatever you want it to be, and last for as long as you like.
We encourage our students to take a month of solo travel after our 2-month programme — maximising the time they spend pushing boundaries and developing themselves, whilst enjoying the variety of different kinds of travel. Some go on to travel further across Africa and the rest of the world, while others head back home after 3 months.
There are so many options available; it really is entirely up to you!
If you’re considering a shorter gap, our founder recommends spending at least 4 weeks in one area. You’ll get the best all-round experience, and gain a real understanding of the culture you’re immersed in.
Myth #2 — I won’t go back to uni after a gap year
90% of students disagree!
It’s a common concern that students who take a gap year will be distracted from their studies and not go back to uni. In fact, approximately 90% of students who take a gap year return to university when they come home.
A great gap year experience can help you to consolidate your thinking, and return with a clearer idea of exactly what you want to do next, and the motivation to make that a reality.
Stefan Wathan, chief executive of the Year Out Group says, “evidence shows students are more likely to complete their chosen (university) course if they have taken a gap year — so long as, that is, they have planned for it.’’
The experience you’ll gain while away — from work, travel, volunteering, or teaching — can make your uni applications stand out and give you some great stories to talk about in any admittance interview!
For those that choose not to go to uni after their gap year, all those experiences will make your CV sparkle, and give you loads to talk about in interviews.
Myth #3 — I can’t afford a gap year, it’s too expensive
When it comes to gap travel, there really are options to suit every budget; all you need is a bit of determination.
Do your research and decide what you really want to achieve from your time away.
Many students fundraise to cover the costs of their gap year, developing great enterprise skills along the way.
To fund her gap year, Culsans founder, Florence Midwood, used her photography skills to set up a small business, while also working in a local pub. She raised enough to enable her to spend 3 months in South East Asia. These examples of entrepreneurialism, drive and determination gave her the edge when she returned to London and started job hunting.
Some people opt to take working gap years abroad, funding their accommodation and expenses through work in their chosen destination.
However you finance your gap year, future employers will be impressed by your entrepreneurship, dedication, motivation, and drive to achieve any targets you set for yourself.
Myth #4 — If I’m going to take a gap year, I should go on my own
Solo travel is fantastic, and something we absolutely encourage as part of a gap year adventure.
However, many solo travellers head to the same places to have the same experiences with other people their age. These students miss out on horizon-broadening opportunities, getting to experience the culture of the country they’re in, and the chance to develop new skills.
Solo ‘party travel’ certainly has its place in any gap year, but we recommend you head for the beautiful beaches and party scenes after a proper introduction to the country and culture you are travelling in, through a well-established company.
The overall experience and insight you’ll gain through an organised group programme is so much more than you’ll be able to plan and experience on your own. Tie a group tour in with some solo travel and partying at the end and you have a winner!
Myth #5 — Taking a gap year is dangerous
Setting out on your own at the end of school can be a daunting prospect, especially for your parents, and there are certainly some parts of the planet which aren’t great to travel in. However, by taking your gap year with a reputable organisation, you (and mum and dad) can rest assured that you’re in safe hands.
Gap year specialists go through very strict vetting processes to be affiliated with organisations like ABTA, Responsible Travel or Year Out Group, demonstrating their high levels of experience, reliability, and sustainable travel methods. They’ll know where the best medical facilities are, and have experts in place to make sure you’re always safe.
Communication has also come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, so you can expect to be able to stay in touch with people much easier — including mum and dad!
You can find out more about the Culsans 8-week gap year itinerary in Kenyaby visiting our website.