A gap year is usually when someone decides to take a year out before going on to university, but a gap year can be taken at any time.
In your gap year you can do anything from volunteering in Africa to undertaking work experience here or abroad. Many people use their gap year to travel round the world or at least visit some different countries.
This experience can look good on your CV as prospective employers will be able to see that you have spent your time broadening your horizons and learning new skills.
How to make the most of your time
There are definite advantages to taking a gap year, but only if you are going to make the most of the time you have.
Gap years are also a great way to build your confidence, meet new people and learn a new language.
If you didn’t do very well in your exams, you might consider taking re-sits. This is an excellent use of a year and you will hopefully be able to improve your grades to help you get the job or onto the course that you have your heart set on.
Many people get into debt before they graduate but there are a few ways to avoid it. For example, if you work during your gap year you could earn and save some money to help you through your time at university.
The National Union of Students (NUS) estimates that the current average debt per student after graduation is approximately £13,000*. You may not be able to earn this much in a year, but you will be able to save some money to help you manage
If you are thinking of visiting and working in different countries during your year out, there are lots of organisations listed in the ‘Who Can Help?’ section below that you can contact for information.
Essential life skills
Gap years are a great way for you to become more confident. It could be the first time that you live away from home and you will have to look after yourself, cook, clean and manage your money.
You will be able to meet lots of new people from different backgrounds and learn new skills. The skills you learn will be very useful at university, at work, and with your family and friends.
What can you do during your gap year?
There are lots of things you can do during your gap year, from working on a summer camp in America, on a farm in Australia, at a ski resort in New Zealand, to working on a Kibbutz in Israel.
If you are happy to volunteer, there are agencies that will pay for your flights and upkeep in return for a year of your time. You can have amazing experiences such as helping orphans in India or working in the rain forests of South East Asia.
Year in Industry
You could also look into completing a ‘Year in industry’. You would be working with people you can relate to and would learn new skills. This will also offer you an insight into how a business operates.
It’s also worth noting that some of the students that prove themselves are awarded sponsorships for their time in higher education.
Visit The Year In Industry website for more details.
Who can help?
The CSV website has information on full-time volunteering opportunities for people wanting to take a gap year.
The Project Trust is for young people aged 17-19 and is a gap year organisation which can help school leavers to go abroad for a year’s voluntary work.
Raleigh International is a well established charity which enables people of all ages and cultures to develop leadership skills and experience personal growth through adventure and challenge expeditions overseas. If you are aged 17+ and looking to make a real difference, this could be for you.