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Is a Gap Year for You? Five Financial Reasons to Consider One

By Lynda Sydney

Published November 15, 2016 • 3 Min Read

As your high school life draws to a close, you are likely asked by family and friends the same, and perhaps dreaded, question: what’s next?

This is an important decision, and if you feel you’re not ready to make it, you’re not alone. That’s one reason why the “gap year” between high school and college or university is becoming more popular in Canada.

If you’re considering a gap year, here are five good financial reasons why it might be the right choice for you.

1. Find a paid internship

You think you want to study journalism, business or law, but are unsure of what is really involved in the field. Working at an internship in your chosen discipline allows you to try out the profession before you commit to studying it for the next four years of your life (and beyond). Plus, you can make money while you learn.

Another benefit is that by working for a year, you gain practical information about a particular area of study. This means the theoretical knowledge you learn once you go back to school is more meaningful, and can accelerate your education.

2. Avoid wasting tuition

Many students register for a program only to find out in their first year that it wasn’t what they expected and they really don’t like it. This wastes a year of their life not to mention the high-cost of tuition – which averages about $6,000 to $10,000 a year (plus living expenses) and can be even higher for specialized programs. Avoiding this financial drain is another good reason to explore the profession during a gap year.

3. Establish your credit rating

Whether you find a paid internship or work at another job, this is an ideal time to establish good credit. Get a credit card for minor purchases and be sure to pay it off in full and on time each month – no shopping sprees! This will help you establish a good credit rating which can help you get approved for a car loan, line of credit or mortgage down the road.

4. Save for tuition or travel

Working during a gap year gives you more time to save money for tuition while you are researching possible career options. You may decide to work for most of the year and use some of the money earned to travel for a month or so. Travelling and exploring different cultures offers important practical life experiences that can serve you well on the job front.

This doesn’t mean a beach vacation enjoying the sun and surf in the Bahamas! Look for travel and work or educational programs – a build for Habitat for Humanity in South America, a business internship in Asia, or studying a language in Europe.

5. Build your résumé

Gaining valuable work experience during a gap year looks great on a résumé. If you decide to enroll in a program to study a particular area, this will help you stand out in a competitive job market. You will also have an advantage over graduates who have a degree but lack real experience, and could also lead to a higher starting salary. You may also be able to get summer employment with the company during your years at school, which will give you even more competence in the area.

Taking a gap year can help you learn new skills, uncover your passions, and provide growth and development opportunities as you determine what you want to do with your life. It may be worth exploring!

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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