A gap year involves taking time out of formal education or employment to do something that will add to your skills and experience. It is very important to weigh up the pros and cons of a gap year in relation to your own circumstances.
You will need to think carefully about the location, duration and type of activities that interest you and then consider factors such as cost, the levels of support you require and the sustainability of any projects you become involved in. One of the most important considerations during a gap year abroad is your safety, and personal insurance covering both health and belongings is essential. We have a selection of guides in the careers library covering all aspects of preparing for a gap year.
If you are planning a gap year before going to university you will need to check with admissions tutors that entry can be deferred. If you are planning to go to university when you return but have not secured a place it is important to be aware of application deadlines, the need to supply references and the possibility of interviews. During your gap year it is useful to record and reflect on what you have learnt by keeping a diary or online travelogue as a future interviewer may well ask you what you gained from your year out.
The Year Out Group represents over 35 gap year organisations which provide a wide range of organised gap year programmes in over 90 countries and are required to adhere to the Group’s Code of Practice and Members’ Charter. Before embarking on this type of organised gap year programme we recommend that you ask to be put in touch with a previous ‘gapper’ who has recently returned from the same placement with the same company. The AV Gap Year Guide contains information on the benefits a year out can bring and how you can make the most of it. An organised gap year abroad can be expensive and if you are planning to work as a volunteer we have a number of fundraising suggestions in the careers library or for more ideas check out the A to Z of Fundraising Ideas and other money matters on www.gapyear.com.
Some of the best gap years involve very little expenditure. If you want to take a year out earning money to finance higher education you will find a wide range of job opportunities at Employment4students.
Those who are aiming for a career that requires relevant work experience may find suitable opportunities volunteering with CSV. The Year in Industry arranges high–quality paid placements for students in their gap year before or during a degree course. Their focus is on engineering, science and general business placements; university admissions tutors are often impressed by students who participate in this scheme.
The following websites contain information on a wide variety of gap year options:
www.gap-year.comInformation and advice with links to numerous organisations for work, study and volunteer placements in the UK and overseas. Produces the annual Gap Year Guidebook
www.gapwork.comInformation and advice on taking a gap year and finding paid work or volunteering abroad