Taking a Gap Year
Many students decide to take a gap year after completing their A-Levels, and after finishing a solid 15 years in education, we can see the appeal. Taking a little time off to do exactly what you want to do is a great idea, plus not to mention the skills and knowledge you’ll gain. However it’s simply not for everyone, just like becoming a teacher isn’t for everyone (some of us just couldn’t hack it). So if you’re thinking about taking a gap year, brilliant! But please please consider some of the important points below for committing.
Why should you take a Gap Year?
Reasons for taking a gap year can differ, but probably the most common ones are below…
- To earn money
- To gain new skills and knowledge
- Have a break from studying
- Go travelling/ enjoying yourself
- Taking time to decide what you want to do next
- A combination of the some/ all of the above
Whatever your reasons, make sure your plans are in line with your motivations. For instance, it would be pointless taking a gap year to earn money, and only getting a part-time job, or taking a gap year to have a break from studying and then enrolling in a short course.
So whatever you decide, it’s important to make plans that will help you achieve your goal. But before you do, it’s vital you consider all the Pro’s and Con’s of actually taking a Gap Year. It isn’t for everyone and you may not have even considered some of the interesting points below..
- A Gap Year looks brilliant on your CV. It shows independence, maturity, responsibility, plus a whole range of characteristics depending on what you do.
- You can save a lot of money. A lot of students get themselves into big overdrafts during Uni, having a pot of savings which will keep you in a good financial position is very smart.
- The world has so much to offer, and you can gain so much valuable experience from travelling, working and living in the ‘real’ world for a year.
- You can gain experience in a field you're interested in, not only could this give you more of an idea of what you want to study at Uni, but it will also give you industry or field experience which you can use in your studies.
- You will develop as a person, regardless of future studies, taking a Gap Year can really benefit yourself, in terms of outlook, character and actions.
- Some people find it hard to return to studies after a year off.
- Taking a Gap Year can be very expensive if you want to travel and not work. You need to budget for every single cost and figure out whether you can afford it.
- A Gap Year with no planning or structure can be pointless and not add any value to your future plans or studies.
- Some people feel that taking a year out is a distraction and it’s better to carry on straight away with studying.
So with all of these in mind, if you’re still super up for a Gap Year, brilliant! The next step is doing your research. It’s great having an idea, but you need research and plan whether you can even do what you want to on your Gap Year. There are hundreds of companies and organisations which help students during a Gap Year, whatever your reason for it, there are some points to consider below...
Working on a Gap Year
If you’re wanting to earn some money on your gap year, you may find it more beneficial to stay at home and get a full-time job, in which there are minimal expenses e.g. travelling, parking etc. You can move away from home to work, or even move abroad for a year and work for money. However, here, you need to consider living costs like rent and food, if you're wanting to save as much as possible, look for jobs which include accommodation and food.
Travelling on a Gap Year
Probably one of the most courageous decisions is to travel, experiencing a new culture, ways of life and living in unfamiliar surroundings takes guts, but boy is it rewarding. There are lots of companies and organisations which provide gap year travelling packages and excursions. Have a google and explore the many options which are available, some of these companies can be seen below…
A break from studying on a Gap Year
Now if you’re wanting to take a break from studying, that's perfectly normal, you are in education for a long time. Having a year off is great for focusing on what you love, you could practice yoga everyday, reignite your love of painting or even learn a language. It’s important not to just do nothing when you're off, this won’t look fantastic on your CV. Whether it’s volunteering, getting a job, get some work experience, try and do something alongside your ‘studying break’ which will show you’ve used this time wisely.
Taking the time to decide on a Gap Year
Commiting to completing a 3 year degree that costs over £27,000 when you’re only 17 is a BIG decision. Not to mention making the decision of what you want to do for the rest of your working life when you’re not even old enough to drive yet, scary we know! Taking a year off to decide what to do, despite what people say, is a very mature decision. Not following friends, and not following what is ‘expected’ takes guts, but if you don’t know what you want to do, it's exactly the right decision.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to take a Gap Year, if you feel that's right for you, Go For It! You will never get this opportunity again with no responsibilities and no obligations, so this is the perfect time. Just make sure you do your research, plan, budget and stay safe!