After completing your first degree or deciding that you need a change of career the natural inclination is to go full pelt straight into the postgraduate course that will get you to the future you want.
But what about taking a year to take a breath and have a good long think about your future?
Maybe a gap year is just the thing to thoroughly prepare you for postgraduate study?
Travel the world to find out what you really want to do
If you are investing money into postgraduate study, then you want to be really sure that you are making the right choice. Gaining a few new experiences and viewing the world in another culture might reaffirm that you know what you want to do or you might discover something new about yourself.
Earn some money
This is a brilliant reason to take a year out. The cheapest way to fund your studies is with money you have already saved and if you're able to live cheaply to save all the better. Avoiding loans will keep the cost of your postgraduate study down over the long-term but they are a great way to fill a funding gap.
Get some work/life experience
This is particularly useful for courses in business or law as you'll be able to use your past experiences as evidence for your studies. It will also make anything you learn all the more understandable if you see exactly how it is applied in real life. Getting an internship or volunteering in your field of interest might make it easier to get a job at the end of your course as well.
Take a break from the coursework, revision and exam routine
If you went straight from school to your undergraduate degree, then maybe a little break from the routine will keep you enthused and passionate about your studies. You don't want to give up on a course if all you needed was a little break from it or a reminder about why you became so passionate about it in the first place.
Learn about another culture while learning a language
This will add skills to your CV and you'll grow and change as a person if you can understand the world from the view of another country. A second language is a hugely valuable skill that you will find is needed in every international organisation or business.
Make friends outside of your course and career path
If you've been really focused and busily networking away, then you definitely need to meet people from outside of your course and chosen profession. Not only will this improve your ability to help and grow your existing network of contacts but you'll also have fun meeting new and different people.
Is a gap year a good way to prepare for postgraduate study? Absolutely, you'll come back focused and reminded as to why you are passionate about your field of study and you might be richer if not in cash then in life experience instead.