Putting aside the option of doing a gap year and moving on to the question: ”Should I do vocational training, a dual course of study or just the classical approach?”
All of these three options have pros and cons, so you should primarily analyze your own learning methods and how you study the best. Is it best for me to study in a really structured and school like environment? Do I achieve better results, when I get to learn in a more practical way? Or do I thrive on a symbiosis on those both paths and want to further educate myself with theoretical knowledge, but also get to experience the real work life? One of the positive aspects of doing vocational training or a dual course of study is the financial independence.
As a student you are always financially dependent on either your parents or a scholar ship program, but as a vocational trainee or a dual course of study student, you receive a monthly salary and are able to afford your own student apartment. If you do not need your own apartment because you still live at home, you have the opportunity of putting some money aside and saving it for a new car or your first apartment, when you are down with your training. Assuming that you work hard and do your job well, the chances of being hired by the company, that is doing your training, after you are done, are pretty good. Therefore, vocational training and a dual course of study seem to be a bit more safe than studying the classical/old school way.
The pro-arguments of the classical approach mostly coincide with the negative aspects of the other two possibilities, because, statistically speaking, people that have a “Hochschulabschluss” tend to have more chances of being promoted throughout their career. Furthermore, less academics are jobless than none academics (only 2,5% of all academics were without a job in 2005), so as a trainee you may have a more secure path, but probably not as many prospects. Additionally there are a lot of private universities in Germany that offer the classical course of study, but with a focus on practical learning as well. So after having analyzed the pros and cons of the various educational paths, it might be a tad bit easier to decide which way to go.
After having assembled an inner pro-con-list and having silenced the nervous and slightly paranoid voice inside your head, you can ask yourself:” Is it really a matter of life and death to decide what educational path you want to choose?” There is a famous saying:” Every way leads to Rome.”, which applies in this scenario, because it isn’t as important anymore what you study or that you study at all. That a man cannot be successful without having studied law, business or medicine and a woman has to study history and then find herself a nice lawyer, is as ancient as can be.
The true problem nowadays is the incredible amount of competition on the job market, due to the fact that 60% of a year finish with a high school diploma and 77% of all those go to university to further their studies. 25 years ago only 32% finished with a high school diploma and 70% went on to universities. In addition to that, we don’t only have to compete with all of Germany, but also the whole world. Therefore my advice to you is: Do something you love or at least really like, so you can stick out of the mass of people doing the same thing you are. This is only possible, when you are truly passionate about what you do and have fun doing it. Of course, when looking at the statistics a lawyer earns more than a yoga teacher, but if yoga is totally your thing and you manage to make it your own, then by all means go ahead and do it, because in the end you might get a lot more out of it.
All in all it is not only about the material aspects, but that you manage to spend 50 years working in your job without having a heart-attack or an ulcerated stomach.