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Gap Years.

A gap year is a great chance to take a break from education and develop your skills and experiences, either at home or abroad – it could take you anywhere, literally!

If you're unsure about your next steps, or just fancy taking the time to try new experiences, then a gap year could be for you. It’s a great chance to take a break from education and develop your skills and maximise your experiences, either at home or abroad – it could take you anywhere.

One of the main reasons why gap years are so popular is because they give you the chance to be flexible and fill your time with almost anything you want to do, so you can have fun, try new things, and kickstart your future. There are lots of things you can do, from volunteering, travelling and interrailing through to au-pairing or teaching abroad.

Travelling is probably the most popular activity most associate with gap years. It can help you make the most of your year, or longer. You'll be experiencing new cultures, trying different activities, and meeting lots of people along the way.

If you’re leaving college or sixth form, you can also use this time to think further about your ambitions and plan what you may need to do for your future. Consider if higher education is for you, and if so, which route you'll take – this is the key time to apply so you'll be ready to start by the next academic year. If you’ve already applied to university, look into deferring for a year and pushing your start date back.

A gap year is also a great chance to gain more experience within the workplace through internships or volunteering, which universities and employers will love to see! Consider your choices carefully, as you'll have to be willing to make the most of your time out. Employers and universities will notice the gap in your CV, so it's important that you're using this time to do something worthwhile that’ll benefit you in the future.

If you do decide to take a gap year, you may be wondering what you can spend your time doing. And the answer is – almost anything! Some of the opportunities you can take include:

Travelling

You could decide to go travelling independently or as part of a group, which will give you experiences that other people may not have. You’ll raise your cultural awareness and develop a knowledge of the wider world - and have a lot of fun along the way!

Work

Working during a gap year can increase your employability as it shows future employers that you’re committed, willing, and motivated. Work opportunities include au-pairing, teaching or if you’re a sport instructor, in something like scuba-diving, tennis coaching or skiing you could find a resort to work in! You’ll also be earning money which you could put towards funding your life at university if that’s your next step – textbooks and nights out aren’t cheap!

Volunteering

There are lots of benefits to volunteering during a gap year. You’ll be gaining experience and, similar to if you chose to work, prove you’re committed. There’s also a wide variety of organisations where you can volunteer – for example, working for a charity means you’ll also be giving back to your community, so research the different opportunities available.

If there's somewhere you've always wanted to go, use this chance to get there.

FAQ

When should I take a gap year?

A gap year is normally taken by those finishing college or university, but you can do them at any point in your life! If you're unsure of exactly what you want to do, you could use a gap year to think further about your future, or simply use it to spend time away from the normal day-to-day! Here are some ways you might do this:

  • Consider if university is for you. If you have a place but aren't sure, you could defer for a year to make a firm decision on if you want to go.
  • If you missed the application deadline to apply to university but have decided you want to go, you could take a gap year and re-apply in the next admissions round.
  • If you're unsure about the career you'd like after university, take this time to get work experience, an internship, or volunteer to help you decide.

What are the benefits of a gap year?

There are benefits to a gap year no matter what you choose to do during this time. Taking a gap year could:

  • Develop your skills – a gap year can help you to build on the transferable skills you've gained at school, making sure you've got what employers want. You could also use this time to learn some new hobbies and skills to broaden your horizons as much as you can!
  • Increase your cultural awareness – If you decide to go travelling, your experience will help you to learn more about the world and the different cultures you'll encounter.
  • Boost your confidence – whether this is through travelling or working, everything that you learn and succeed in will increase your self-esteem.
  • Develop your independence – learning to rely on yourself means you'll be more prepared for later life – for uni, work, or anything else it holds.
  • Increase your work experience – as we’ve already mentioned, a gap year gives you a great opportunity to try new things and build on your experience in the workplace, which is what employers want to see.

If you use this time wisely, a gap year can become a valued part of your CV that’ll help massively when you're applying for jobs.

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