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:
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!
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!
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.