A gap year can tempt a lot of students when thinking about whether they should go onto higher education, or if they are feeling unsure of what they want to study at university. Gap years can change people and offer amazing opportunities that will shape their lives and their careers after. The one thing to make sure is that your gap year is not wasted, and here are some things to consider if you’re asking the question: should I go on a gap year?
A gap year use to be when students would take a year off from education, usually after college or A-Levels and before studying for a degree. However, now, it can be anytime and during anything. Some graduates take a gap year after obtaining a degree, before they start a masters or PhD programme (learn more – what is a PhD), or even before they start working up the career ladder – it is entirely up to the individual.
If you are an A-Level student, you can still apply for UCAS (learn more – understanding the UCAS applicaiton) and a course and still take a gap year after receiving your results. UCAS gives you the option to defer your place for a year, where it is frozen, and your place is kept safe for you for the next academic year start. Or you could wait until your gap year is over and apply then you may re-sit exams or take extra qualifications during this time which could affect your UCAS entry points, therefore improving your application.
If you didn’t receive the grades you were expecting or want to do better, you can re-sit exams (view exam revision tips) the or retake the course for next year. You could even think about taking a completely unrelated course or something you have always had an interest in, like a hobby, or a First Aid’s course. It is completely up to you.
Travelling is one of the most popular reasons for taking a gap year. If you haven’t got the funds, you could work for a few months to save up and then travel, using gap year agencies can help with your plans when traveling. Travelling alone can be more dangerous and lonely, but pick wisely when deciding who to travel the globe with – as you will have to spend nearly every day with them in several countries!
There are volunteer programmes helping underprivileged countries or charity work, or you can stay close to home. Volunteering is a great life experience and can even help you decide on what you want to do in life, as well as giving back to the community and helping others.
If you do take a gap year, you need to explain your reasons to a potential employer or institution if you want to come back and work and/or study. This is the opportunity for you to explain why you wanted to take a year out, all the amazing things that you have done in that time, and how it will help you now (advice on writing a student CV is available). However, if the only reason you wanted to take a gap year is that you wanted to do nothing for a year – it might be time to think of another reason!
Before you decide to take a gap year, you need to plan what you want to do during this time off, and what your goals at the end of it are (learn more – should you go on a gap year?). You don’t want to waste an entire year and not have anything to show for it! If you want it to be career, experience or just people related then you need to research into what can provide that for you and then start planning your year off. There is so much to offer out there, so there are many experiences and aims you can get out of it.
When your gap year is over, its entirely up to you! You can apply for university (search and compare UK universities)or another mode of study, or attend your deferred place at university or look for work. The experiences that you went through during your time off can give you ideas on what to do now that you are back.
Taking a gap year is tempting and very common during education and in between work now – so don’t feel bad that you are unsure as to what you want to do or that you want to take a year off. Gap years should benefit you and help you onto the next stage of your life, so lots of planning and preparation will guarantee that they are successful.
Join the 75,000 students that have already found their future career by taking our short 60-second degree quiz. Find out what you're like and what you could do, by discovering your strengths, personality, what you're passionate about, and some jobs and degree subjects that may be perfect for you!Take Uni Degree Quiz