Planning a gap year?
Taking a gap year between 6th form and a deferred university place could be a great way to enhance your cv for prospective employers, broaden your horizons and, most importantly, enrich your life. But how can you make the very most of the 14 months that stretch out before you?
Firstly have a good think about what you want from your gap year
You could spend the dreary winter months packing boxes in your local warehouse before idly drifting your way through the well trodden backpacker route on limited funds and goodwill...
..or, you could take advantage of some of the incredible opportunities to make a real difference to your life.
Learn a new skill; gain a qualification; win a place on a coveted corporate training programme; learn a new language; help conserve native species; enhance your chosen career path. The list of options is almost endless and a well chosen and productive gap year can you give you a competitive edge in the eyes of prospective employers.
Do your research
Specialist gap year companies offer some incredible gap year packages to suit your budget and time-scale. These organised programmes can be a reassuring way to experience activities that you wouldn't normally be able to access by yourself. However, this does come at considerable expense and sadly, some of these companies promise more than they can deliver or fail to respect the communities of destination countries. Look online for trip reviews from previous gap year students before being too swayed by exciting and exotic advertising.
You can of course go without a structured programme offered by a specialist company, making your own arrangements and itinerary but this does require very careful and full planning in order to keep safe and make sure your year is a productive one.
When going online to find advice and research ideas, its a good idea to remember that .com or .co.uk addresses are companies relying on making a profit, whereas .org web addresses are not for profit and therefore more likely
to offer you objective advice.
Websites like gapadvice.org and gapyearadvice.org offer practical advice and useful planning tools such as a 'gap year calculator'.
Gap year ideas
Gap Year travel advice from
the Foreign Office
A list of paid placements with
companies in the UK
StudyWorkCreate - a British Council initiative offering funding and
opportunities for 16-25 yr olds
BUNAC - a specialist organisation
offering a range of gap year solutions
YINI- a year out in industry