HEAD START: After finishing grade 12 in 2017 Dale Nicholls took a year off, but decided halfway through to take up her place in the Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus.
HEAD START: After finishing grade 12 in 2017 Dale Nicholls took a year off, but decided halfway through to take up her place in the Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus. contributed

Six months emerging as new 'gap year', SCU reports

MORE teenagers are ditching a gap year after high school to start university six months earlier than anticipated, new research shows.

For some, a break until July is proving enough time to travel and 'have a rest' so they can get a head start on their study, while for others overseas university exchange seems like a more meaningful option than travelling prior to study.

Southern Cross University (SCU) campuses have seen an increase of more than six per cent in domestic enrolments for Session 2 intake in July compared to the same time last year.

The domestic enrolments were a combination of mature age students and recent school leavers, partnered with a healthy international cohort.

Gold Coast campus welcomed 250 international students for Orientation week earlier in the month, with major degree draw cards including the internationally-renowned nursing pathways and the double degree in Master in Engineering and Master of Business Administration (MEM/MBA).

Another popular mid-year course is Psychological Science.

Students ranked Southern Cross University number one in Australia for psychology, the only university to rate above 90 per cent, in the 2019 Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) dataset by the Federal Government.

SCU Coffs Harbour Psychology lecturer Dr Desiree Kozlowski weighed in on why some students decide to start study in July after finishing high school the year prior.

"Taking a gap year between finishing high school and beginning university is increasingly common in Australia, for various reasons,” Dr Kozlowski said.

"The evidence about whether or not it's a good idea to take the year out is quite mixed, and there are not a lot of good, comprehensive studies on this. Some students report feeling exhausted or 'burnt out' after the pressures of year 12 exams, others are not sure what they want to study, and others want to get some experience working or volunteering in the 'real world' before continuing their education.

"What does seem clear is that structured gap years - those with a clear purpose - bring more benefits than unstructured gap years, where the young person simply has free time.

Dr Kozlowski said structured gap years can see the young person commence their university course with higher motivation and engagement with their studies.

"We know that motivation and engagement are linked to successful outcomes,” she said.

"However, some students who commence an unstructured gap year, hoping to work out what they want to do, or just recover from their final year at high school, find themselves bored and feeling unchallenged.

Instead of waiting out another six months, they can choose to enrol at university mid-year. Thousands of students do this every year.”

After finishing grade 12 in 2017 Dale Nicholls took a year off, but decided halfway through to take up her place in the Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus.

"I was planning to do the gap year thing but I didn't really have a plan other than working and felt like I was wasting my time, and I was ready to get into study after six months. I'm really glad I started study mid-year,” she said.

"My dream is to travel to Europe and I realised it would be way better to do it after I've studied when I can use my nursing skills to work over there.

"There are so many overseas exchange opportunities through University as well, so many students choose to travel during their studies rather than taking a gap year.”



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