Understanding Gap Year AgenciesSee All Uni Advice Articles
Are you planning to escape on a gap year in between your university years or maybe after you have finished your degree or are you retaking exams during a gap year? Whenever you go abroad, there are plenty of options from volunteering, travelling and working and it’s often a more secure choice to place yourself with a gap year agency, so you’ll be fully supported throughout your adventures (learn more – should you go on a gap year).
Choosing and understanding a gap year agency
Gap year agencies are structured placed workforces that offer you 24-hour local support, a great orientation on arrival and even help match you up with like-minded people in accommodation of your choice – so you’re bound to make friends and enjoy your trip even more than you anticipated. They vary from the organisations, so we’ve done the hard work for you so.
Placements and Selection
Some placements have a maximum of only two participants at a time, so if there is a particular project that you would love to do on your gap year make sure that you apply as early as possible.
Some placements will also require you to attend an interview and supply a CV (learn more – writing a student CV) to make sure you meet particular criteria. This is to assess whether you are suitable for this placement, you must have the right personality and set of skills for the job that you are applying for.
Gap year agencies are looking for particular traits of imagination, resilience and a hard-working attitude – make sure that you showcase these skills before the selection process. When showcasing these skills, stay enthusiastic and show that you are more than capable of the tasks ahead.
What to do before a gap year placement?
Placement covers the activities you’d like to do and usually the places that you plan to visit, having a placement will help you to get the most out of your gap year by doing the project best suited to you as an individual. Remember that before any gap year you will need to research the places, projects and companies and clear up any doubt or questions you may have about a placement/project (find out more about gap years and travelling and what is available). It is always important to ask the agency.
You may also want to know who else benefits from the placements and if your work will be carried on by someone else, your work may be contributing to a better future for the people and the environment involved.
Gap Year Agencies
When it comes to booking agency placements, you need to check if the agency reputation is good by searching for reviews of their projects by previous gap year students. A good gap year agency will usually put you in touch with previous volunteers as this is a question they are often asked.
Find out if the agency is a full member of the Year Out Group and if they are an organisation that is UK registered. A lot of gap year agencies can come and go, and those that are longer established will help reassure that you are on your way to a well supported, organised gap year.
In 2009 one of the leading gap year providers filed for administration as it wasn’t able to fulfil its obligations to their paid customers – fortunately, they were a member of the Year Out Group, and this allowed people to claim their money back.
We have a list of gap year agencies that may be able to assist you with your placements; these are the leading providers these will be considered some of the best gap year agencies to work with you on your placement/project:
- Real Gap
- Global Vision International
- Projects Abroad
- The Leap
- Rayleigh International
Alternative Gap Year Agencies
Some agencies charge 400% markup on their programmes, so it’s worth checking out these organisations below that offer similar placements at a much lower cost:
- Oasis Overland
- Aviva Africa
- Blue Ventures
- Volunteer 4 Africa
- Gap Guru
- Development In Action
Regardless of how you decide to plan your gap year, make sure you plan it, no gap year whether it is with an agency or not should be unplanned (read more – is the gap year overrated). It requires hard work, to raise thousands of pounds to plan each step of the way but if you set enough money aside and plan well, you can be sure that you will have an amazing gap year or shall we say ‘GAP YAH’ (learn more – it’s valuable to sum up the pros and cons of a gap year).
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