2 May, 2012 @ 17:37
1 min read

Mind the gap

By Guillermo Fernandez

I HEARD my friend Alfonso was thinking about taking a gap year before going to Southampton University to study aerospace engineering, so I sent him an email to warn him.

Firstly, nowadays one must obtain a high-level degree to be able to survive in this highly-competitive world where job opportunities are increasingly scarce.

If you take a gap year you will alter your study routine and inevitably you will become lazy study-wise.

The lack of a revision routine could cause you to forget many of the things you had previously learnt at school.

Secondly, the course he is taking is extremely challenging and complicated and if he is not continuing to revise then his level could decrease rapidly and the course may end up being much harder than he had previously expected.

Another friend of mine – who got straight A’s – decided to travel for a year and when he got back gave up the idea of university altogether, because he didn’t want to spend four years chasing a career if he could merely get a part time job and continue to travel and party.

While that might be fun for a while, in the long run he may well live to regret it.

To conclude I would like to reinforce my message that taking a gap year is not the correct decision.

Do you agree? Contact [email protected]

James Bryce

DO YOU HAVE NEWS FOR US at Spain’s most popular English newspaper - the Olive Press? Contact us now via email: [email protected] or call 951 273 575


  1. I don’t think there is inevitably a problem with taking a gap year.

    For a start it broadens people’s mental horizons and will require them to develop both social and problem solving skills that will serve them well in both their personal and professional lives.

    Furthermore, although there are problems with jobs and employment, opportunities are growing exponentially and it has never been easier to start your own business or businesses.

    Perhaps the writer of this article is feeling a little insecure and needs to be in a formal institutional structure..?

  2. A year of relevant work (usually a year out between years of degree) can really help people learn more about the subject and put the learning into focus. But at the same time, people with potential don’t have a duty to fulfill that potential.

    I work with straight-A students at Southampton (my google alerts are how I found this article). Some very bright students actually have the problem that school was too easy and getting an A didn’t require much effort for them. After that a good degree course can be a culture shock as we want it to be challenging even to the brightest and hardest workers. I’m proud of the reputation engineering graduates from Southampton have and my small contribution to that.

  3. Hello Guillermo,

    I have to say I find your article quite saddening. I work for an organisation that sends young people away on volunteering placements and I have to say the vast majority are actually motivated to achieve more, they are more worldly, have more confidence and are generally more proactive. Many people also leave university with academic skills yes, but little real world / transferable skills that will help them get that first job. Things such as initiative, teamwork, leadership, self starting and in many cases learning a language too.

    From my personal experience as a student, those that took gap years actually were more inclined to study and concentrate in their first year at uni, those that hadn’t were generally drunk on freedom of being away from parents and were frequently very drunk

    I understand your comments and if a year off is not utilized productively then yes, you have a point, but many people do productive things with their gap year and so benefit from it, through university and beyond!

  4. “opportunities are growing exponentially”

    Which country is that again Christopher? If there were exponential opportunites there would not be record unemployment.

  5. Fred, opportunities are everywhere these days thanks to a 30 year old invention we call the internet…

    As to unemployment, its recent increase in Spain and some other countries has no relevance to the fact that opportunities are increasing for those who are able or willing to see and take them.

  6. Stefanjo, I didn’t say that “unemployment is irrelevant”, so your reaction is misplaced.

    If you don’t see any opportunities, then maybe that is a failure of your imagination, because there are so many little business ideas just waiting to be implemented.

    I can’t tell you what you should do, all I can tell you is that I haven’t had a job this century, nor do I want one. I don’t come from a privileged background either; it wasn’t so long ago that I was literally penniless.

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