Do you know what you want to do after high school? What are your options? Some students feel like they don’t have many options in what they can do after school. This can mostly be due to financial constraints.

If we all could we would take the opportunity to take a gap year after school to “figure out what we want to do with our lives”, but for some there might not be resources to have this luxury.

If you want to continue your studies after school, and do not have the financial resources to accomplish this, you have two options: getting bursaries to cover your studies, or taking a gap year to save up and go study after you have the funds to support yourself during your studies.

What is a gap year?

A gap year is a year you take between high school and pursuing higher education. Some people are not interested in this, and cannot wait to get to studying (like me), while others want to travel, get job experience or volunteer their time before they apply to university or start their careers.

There is a lot that can be done with your gap year options after high school – volunteer, work, intern, travel, independent study, or all of them combined. You could take a gap year immersed in one community, or hop around the world.

Research some of your options and have a look at what is possible for you. There are many resources on gap years online, some which are very expensive and some that you will be able to get paid for.

Should I take a gap year?

A gap year can be very beneficial if you are not sure what you want to study yet, or what career you want to have. Studying takes a lot of time, money and effort. You don’t want to waste that on something you are not sure about.

Hein Johnson, a third-year BAgri student. Photo: Supplied

Hein Johnson, a third-year BAgri student. 

“I would recommend working before going to study. You could end up wasting your time and money if you study without being relatively sure of what you want to do,” says explains a 3rd year BAgri student, Hein Johnson. “As you work you will find yourself.”

Taking a gap year can help you to find out what you want to study. It can lead you to wonderful places and opportunities and you could use the time to really impact the world around you if you choose to volunteer your time.

There are, of course, some cons when it comes to taking a year off between studies.

Your work may not pay enough for you to save up, and you end up working there for much longer than you ever wanted to. Or you start feeling out of the loop when it comes to studying and being in the academia, and don’t find it easy reintegrating into life as a student after having a job.

These are not massive hurdles, though. After gaining some work experience it might be easier for you to get a bursary to cover your studies, or your job might sponsor you to get upskilled with some short courses or a diploma.

And being a student will always be difficult, whether you jump into University straight after school or after a year or two off. But if you are dedicated to your studies, and passionate about the reason you are pursuing it, then you will have the strength to overcome the challenges.