To study further, work or to take a gap year?

With results in hand, one has to wonder whether to continue studying, go into the workplace or to take a gap year.

“While no one can predict with 100 percent accuracy the way things will turn out, there are a couple of realities to take in to consideration,” said Dr Felicity Coughlan, director of the Independent Institute of Education.

“The first thing to note is that graduates generally earn more throughout their lives than those without post-school qualifications and they are more likely to find employment. So if you are in a position to get a higher education, you must certainly choose that route rather than just go straight into the workplace.”

However, Coughlan points out the importance of studying something that is employable.

Coughlan said that, from a financial perspective, the student who studies straight after school and graduates in three years is significantly better off than matriculants who elect any other option – be it entering the workplace or taking a gap year.

“But, the student who takes a gap year, rather than studying a year and failing, is better off than the student who fails and repeats one year. And much better off than the student who has to repeat two years.”

Coughlan noted that although taking a gap year is a popular option for many matrics, and can be an attractive prospect after having spent 12 years on school benches, its pros and cons should be carefully weighed out.

“Unfortunately, a gap year puts you a year behind your peers in terms of studying and earning potential. But if you use the time to make some money or gain life or work experience and you incur no debt, it could be worth considering,” she said.

“Time is money and wasting time has a sustained financial impact throughout a person’s productive life.”

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