So - you’re thinking about taking a gap year. Well, we can confirm that a gap year done right can be extremely rewarding in terms of both personal growth and career progression! Read on to discover some gap year ideas and find out how taking a gap year might be advantageous - but remember that you will need to give thoughtful consideration to your individual circumstances, and ultimately, the the decision is yours alone to make.
1. Exploring Your Options
A wise A Level student once pondered “how can I be expected to make big life decisions when I still have to ask to go to the toilet?”. We know first hand that it can sometimes feel as though you’re forced to make life-altering decisions and you don’t have much time to figure things out. Taking a gap year could be a great opportunity for you to gain some life experience and find out where your interests really lie.
Choosing to take a gap year right after A Levels is considered the best time to do so. Deferred entry is a great option if you would definitely like to go to university, but want to take a little time out first. Once you’ve begun your degree, disrupting your studies for any length of time can make it difficult to pick things back up, and it might be slightly more difficult to find the time and money to go on a gap year once you’re faced with life after university.
However - choosing to take a gap year right after A levels may mean that you start university with your chosen subject and motivations less fresh in your mind. Depending on your degree choice, it is definitely worth giving some serious thought to how taking a gap year might affect your studies. Science and essay based subjects might be particularly difficult to get back into if you take a break.
2. Gain Some Qualifications
It is more important than ever to be able to distinguish yourself with future employers, and depending on what you choose to get up to, taking a gap year could give you that edge.
Whether you’re earning money to fund future adventures or saving up for university; do not underestimate how valuable casual work can be for developing skills which employers will be looking for! Casual work is also a good way to keep busy if you’ve decided to take a gap year, but don’t have any concrete gap year ideas or plans.
Finding an internship or employment related to a career you’re interested in will look great on your CV, and could potentially enthuse you for what the future holds or point you in a different direction. These are both useful outcomes, and choosing to gain this experience while on a gap year will give you plenty of time and space to consider how to progress.
Picking a cause you care about and offering your time to help in some way is an admirable and fulfilling way to use some of your time during your gap year. (And we’d be lying if we said we didn’t think this kind of experience would also look really good on your CV!)
3. Learn Something New
Is there a language you’d love to learn or a skill you think it would be great to have? Getting back into learning might be the last thing on your mind once you complete your A levels, but remember that studying something you’re truly passionate about and interested in is a completely different experience to school or college learning. Exploring a new subject or course could prove very useful in later life, and could help you stand out from the crowd when you’re applying for jobs in future.
Travelling is the ultimate gap year cliche - but with good reason! What could be better than spending a few weeks or months discovering beautiful new lands and learning about different cultures? It doesn’t have to be purely recreational either - check out TEFL and WWOOF for gap year travel ideas and working opportunities that could contribute to your career and personal development while you have an adventure; the best of both worlds!
5. Life Experience and Personal Growth
Whatever you decide to do - work, travel, gain some new qualifications or all of these things; taking a gap year could lead to personal growth and experiences which may contribute to your success and enjoyment at university. Whether it’s learning adaptability, independence, self-reliance, or just starting university with a few great stories to tell; do not underestimate or devalue the importance of cultivating a deeper understanding of yourself. Many higher education institutions have reported that gap year students actually perform better and are more engaged with life at university!
Sidenote: If you do decide to take a gap year, try your best not to end up sounding like this...