Gap years, are they a worth while experience or a waste of time and money?

If someone asks me again where my son is going for his “gap year” I think I might scream! My son isn’t taking a gap year he’s gone off to university….where I hope he will have plenty of life experiences, fun whilst learning, and finishing what he started…his education.

Maybe I’m wrong but I just don’t get the arguments for these often glorified holidays, especially when they’re funded by Mum and Dad. Weren’t we all encouraged to get qualified and find a job as soon as possible? I was staggered recently at a recent gap year show put on by my sons school offering fabulous trips at horrendous prices. Of course they all boasted confidence building, leadership skills that would be passed on to any young person enjoying this trip of a life time. Doesn’t attaining good grades at school give confidence and a sense of achievement and doesn’t ones first pay packet give a warm feeling of independence, pride and satisfaction? Why do young people feel the need to go half way round the world in order to feel these emotions? Of the young people I know that have enjoyed an indulgent year of travel I have seen one come home to England to fulfil a university place and then head back off to teach in India as soon as it was finished. My cousins daughter has deferred her entry for another year running, in order to go off traveling for a second year, and a friend of mine’s son has never returned and has finally settled in Canada after five years of globe trotting.

My son often cringes when I’m around other mothers and the topic of Gap years comes up, I’m afraid I’m rather outspoken. Don’t get me wrong I do think there are the exceptions to the rule and I’m all for hearing about them. I’m sure there are children who do fund and organise Gap years themselves, however, I really feel that it has become a private/public school malaise that has infected many middle class families. My son has told me though that it has now filtered through to the state school sector. Good luck to all those parents depriving themselves of personal comforts in order to provide their children with quite frankly a trip that they should, after bringing up their children, take themselves. Anyone want to send me on a gap year?