What is a Gap Year? And how to make the best use of it!

Filed in Articles by on 19th February 2022

What is a Gap Year?

A gap year is a semester or year of experience learning between high school graduation and college admission. Gap years are designed to allow students to take a break from academics to explore themselves and determine what type of school and job they want to follow. Gap years can take many different forms, including paid work, internships, volunteering, and travel. These activities can be carried out on their own or as part of a scheduled gap year program. In this article, we discuss gap year benefits, gap year statistics, gap year advantages, and disadvantages.

What is a Gap Year?

Concept Of Experiencing A Gap Year

According to one survey, the two most prevalent reasons for taking a sabbatical year were burnout from high school’s competitive atmosphere and a desire to learn more about oneself. Students can enjoy gap year benefits such as enough time to rest, refocus, and learn about themselves on their own terms, which can help them with both of these challenges. Taking a gap year after graduation is becoming a more popular choice among graduates, and more universities are encouraging students who do so.

Some enthusiasts have even suggested that gap years, or a year of national service, be made compulsory. More students are considering taking time off from school as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has led institutions around the country to temporarily close and shift to online programs, possibly stretching into the fall semester. Despite the potential gap year benefits, many people are unfamiliar with the concept and may feel it involves aimless travel or wasting time.

 

Advantages of A Gap Year

1. Return to School Refreshed and Refocused:

A gap year can help you recuperate from academic burnout while also allowing you to pursue your interests. Even amid the pandemic, students can enjoy gap year benefits from remote and at-home options, with more students opting for online internships, jobs, and resources, as well as creative activities they can accomplish at home, such as authoring a book.

2. Providing Clarity and Purpose:

The gap year student will have a better grasp on what they want to study; Improve learning and business potential with a global background that has been proven in the professional sector; Improving academic achievements such as GPA, time-to-graduation, and leadership. A sabbatical year student’s performance in college can be influenced by the clarity gained from taking a year off. In comparison to the national average of six years, gap year students are more likely to graduate in four years or fewer.

3. Build Important Skills:

A gap year can be used to gain a variety of valuable life skills. This could be learning a language while living in another country, developing communication and leadership skills while volunteering, or receiving practical experience through an internship or employment. Choose something with which you have a strong emotional connection because your gap year program might be a terrific opportunity to learn a new talent while being free of other obligations.

4. Broaden Your Horizons:

Traveling and living in another country as a gap year benefit can be a life-changing experience. Exposure to a new culture, learning a foreign language, and seeing the world through new eyes can lead to significant insights into your passions and goals.

5. It Can Look Good on Your Resume or CV:

A fruitful gap year is an excellent opportunity to work on your resume. Learning a new skill, having work experience in your chosen field, studying a second language, or indulging yourself in a topic or region for months can all help your CV stand out. Volunteering or interning for a year might also help you develop skills that will impress potential employers.

 

Disadvantages of a Gap Year

1. Potential to Waste Time

Unstructured gap years can lead to time wasted and a loss of academic progress. While gap-year programs can provide structure and motivation if you plan to spend some or all of your gap year traveling on your own, be sure you’ve set clear goals that you can achieve. Inform trusted persons of your intentions if necessary so that they can hold you accountable. The worst-case scenario for taking a sabbatical year is that you waste your time playing video games, watching TV, and lounging around the house.

2. Gap Years Can Be Expensive:

College can be ridiculously expensive, so a gap year may appeal to students who are concerned that their time in college would be wasted until they’ve established a clear path for themselves. Gap year programs and vacation abroad, on the other hand, are also potentially costly ventures. To avoid a financial setback during your gap year, make sure you understand the potential cost of your trip or program, as well as any hidden costs that may not be disclosed upfront.

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3. Feeling Isolated or Like You’re Falling Behind:

You may feel as if you’re missing out when you see your close friends move off to college and go through similar experiences at the same time. Similarly, knowing that you’ll be going through these events a year after your high school peers may make you feel as if you’re lagging behind. While these emotions are reasonable, keep in mind that, in the bigger picture, starting college a year late won’t hurt your professional prospects, and you’ll have the same college experience when you return.

4. The Transition Back to School Could Be Difficult:

The adjustment back to school could be challenging after a year of being inactive or unengaged in academic activities. The greatest approach to avoid this is to make sure you’re always challenged and engaged by stuff you enjoy, and that no matter how you spend your time, you’re learning something new about yourself, an academic subject, or a culture.

 

What to Do During a Gap Year:

Gap years are meant to be extremely personalized, and your ideal experience may differ greatly from someone else’s. While you can divide your year into stages and incorporate different activities at each level, each stage should emphasize personal growth and discovery. If you’re thinking of taking a year off, examine whether it’s the best decision for you and what you’ll gain from it. The following are some examples of things to do during a gap year:

1. Broaden Your View Of The World

As a gap year student, taking a year off can be a terrific way to immerse oneself in another nation, whether you simply wish to explore and experience another country or improve your knowledge and awareness of global issues. If you decide to travel, obtain experience in a field of study, or volunteer, ask yourself what you hope to gain from the experience.

2. Gain Relevant Work Experience And Key Skills:

Working (either as an intern or in a paid position), volunteering, traveling, and learning a new skill are among the most popular activities done during gap years. If you prefer to work using computer software, you should be aware of the several options available. Working during your sabbatical year will provide you with a wealth of experience, skills, and information, all of which will be quite useful when looking for jobs later on (especially if they are in a relevant industry). This expertise could also be useful in career choice degree programs (such as nursing, law, or veterinary science).

3. Earn Some Money

Following that, taking a year off to work might be a terrific option for improving your income before beginning university. You may not be able to cover all of your university expenditures, but you may be able to cover things like housing, textbooks, travel, or perhaps the first semester/term of your course fees.

4. Develop Useful Contacts

Another gap year benefit is that you’ll likely encounter a variety of people from many walks of life during your sabbatical year. This might include folks you can contact for career chances and references, or just some overseas buddies you can crash on if you get the chance to visit their home country later. Taking a year off to live and work among locals can offer several gap year benefits such as helping you get to know them better, helping you to have a more detailed knowledge of diverse cultures and perspectives. You’ll meet a wide range of people and, if you connect with them, you may become lasting friends.

5. Improve Employability With Key Skills:

You don’t have to work during your gap year program to get valuable transferable skills that will help you stand out to university admissions officers and potential employers. Organization, communication, teamwork, independence, social skills, decision-making, self-sufficiency, time management, budgeting, taking initiative, greater self-confidence, leadership, and mature maturity are some of the major talents that can be learned without working.

6. Challenge Yourself:

Many students use the year to take on personal challenges, venture outside of their comfort zones, face their fears, and try new things. You may go jungle trekking, charity mountain climbing, volunteer in a disadvantaged country, or go scuba diving, skiing, or snowboarding. A gap year should focus on personal development and self-discovery. A gap year student should consider what they hope to gain from the encounter.

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How To Plan a Gap Year:

To avoid wasting time or halting your academic progress, go into your gap year program with a clear idea of what you want to learn and explore. A rambling, aimless sabbatical year is unlikely to have any positive results. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether deferring your college enrollment is the best option. Gap-year programs cover a wide range of topics, with some emphasizing volunteering, adventure, skill development, and/or language acquisition. These gap year programs might span anywhere from three months to an entire school year.

While your gap year program doesn’t have to follow a particular schedule or be carefully planned, you should have a clear idea of how you’ll spend your time. Before switching into a less organized phase of traveling or developing a personal skill or passion, you might wish to start the year with an internship or service program. This implies you’ll most likely stay at or near home during this period, so look into gap year benefits and online options like remote employment and internships. You want to make sure you’re learning and growing, not just sitting about idle, no matter how you frame it.

 

Factor To Consider Before Enrolling In a Gap-Year Program?

One of the most important considerations you’ll have to make while planning your gap year is whether you’ll go it alone or join a formal program. There are a lot of things to consider if you’ve decided to take a gap year (and making the decision isn’t simple!). So, here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about taking a year off to get you fully prepared – or as prepared as you can be – for what may lie ahead:

1. Program Experience

Consider if you want the structure and group experience of a gap year program or the freedom and flexibility of individual exploration before making your decision. Traveling as part of a gap year program may take care of a lot of the details, such as transportation, lodging, and participation in local events and organizations.

2. Program Cost:

When making this option, the cost is another significant issue to consider. Some gap-year programs cost more than $25,000, but there are less expensive possibilities. AmeriCorps, for example, provides an all-expenses-paid sabbatical year — including accommodation, board, and transportation — to 18- to 24-year-olds in exchange for a 10-month commitment to national and community service. The structure, companionship, and access that a gap-year program provides can make it a worthwhile investment if it is affordable and corresponds with your interests.

 

How To Fund A Gap Year

Many expenses might be incurred during a gap year. Fees charged by knowledge providers, travel costs, living expenses, spending money, visas/work permits, driving permits, insurance, internet, and mobile phone costs, equipment, including a comprehensive first aid kit, any hospital, prescription, or health costs, and possibly even passport renewal are all examples of these. Many sabbatical year providers require beginning packages to assist you in settling into your new country. This includes setting up a bank account, medical insurance, lodging, airport transportation, and even assisting you in finding work once you arrive.

They frequently provide detailed information on everything you’ll need to accomplish both before and after you arrive, which might be helpful when preparing your budget. Planning and funding are essential. Your gap year can last up to a year, and there are various options for funding, so start thinking about it as soon as possible. Here are some suggestions to help you fund your gap year:

  1. Get to work before you leave.
  2. Year-round work (either in one place or while traveling)
  3. Create a separate savings account and contribute to it regularly.
  4. Raise funds by participating in sponsored events and activities.
  5. Request donations from family and friends (instead of birthday gifts) or paid chores from them.
  6. Consider selling some of your unwanted items on the internet.
  7. Seek funding from government/federal funding bodies, charities, and grant-making trusts for a grant or loan.
  8. Seek funding from a local charity or service organization.
  9. Make a bank loan or a training loan application (known in the UK as Career Development Loans)

A successful gap year is defined as having a good time while learning new things and doing things you enjoy that will help both you and your future. You learn about the real world, meet new people, travel to new places, and figure out what you want to do with your life. Students can make a more educated decision about their degree and connect better with their chosen field by spending time contemplating and learning about prospective interests. According to one survey, 60% of students said their gap year had influenced their career choice.

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Gap Year Statistics in the U.K

Taking a year off is a rite of passage for hundreds of thousands of students in the United Kingdom each year. It provides the opportunity to get useful life and work experience before moving on to higher school and pursuing a career, which can make a significant difference in their personal and professional lives. The reasons why students take time off from school vary from person to person, but as our gap year statistics for the UK show, some similar themes emerge from the research.

To further explain, we’ve produced a complete list of UK gap year statistics to illustrate what students do during their break, how they fund it, and how it may affect future employment prospects.

Key Gap year Statistics for the United Kingdom:

  1. In 2020, 29,360 students deferred their studies for a university gap year, up 9.4% from the previous year.
  2. According to government studies, between 200,000 and 250,000 young people take gap years every year.
  3. In comparison to 1,200 20-year-olds, 17,700 18-year-olds defer their studies for a gap year on average.
  4. During their sabbatical year, over 207,000 young people will work in the United Kingdom.
  5. 140,000 young people will travel during their gap year.
  6. With an average monthly cost of £1,873, Thailand, Australia, and Vietnam are the most popular travel destinations.
  7. For a full year of travel, the average gap year costs £22,137.
  8. 40% of gap year students use their time off to become more self-sufficient.
  9. 1 out of every 5 young people relies on the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ to fund their gap year.

Every year, between 200,000 and 250,000 young people, according to the Department of Education and Skills, take a gap year. Using UCAS data, we can observe that a portion of this amount comes from an average of 27,518 university students deferring their degree each year to take a year off (during the last 5 years). This accounts for only 11% of the DfES estimate, leaving those who do not attend university for various reasons and those who take gap years after completing their study (about 172,500 – 222,500) to make up the difference.

Conclusion:

You should go into your sabbatical year knowing exactly what you want to learn and explore. A rambling, aimless gap year is unlikely to have any positive results. Because of the coronavirus, more high school graduates and college students are considering taking a year off. Some people simply want to wait until classes resume on campus, while others may require the extra time to save and earn money. Gap years, on the other hand, are not for everyone. Gap year programs and overseas travel can be costly, so think about how a gap year might influence your money and whether it’s worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is A Gap Year?

To begin, what exactly is a gap year? It is typically a 12-month break from education or a job taken by an individual to explore other interests that are generally different from their regular life or line of work.

Why Take A Gap Year?

You (or your child) may choose to take a year off for a variety of reasons. Students usually see it as an opportunity to earn professional or personal experience, accomplish specific goals, and/or pursue personal interests.

Do Employers Care If You Took A Gap Year?

88 percent of gap year students claimed their time away helped them find work. Many businesses value “soft skills,” which are frequently acquired during gap years through vocational programs, working overseas, or volunteering.

Is It Worth Taking A Gap Year?

A productive gap year can look good on your resume. An uncontrolled gap year may not add much to your future prospects; careful consideration and planning are required. You might be able to relate your experiences and activities to the subject you want to study. Returning to school or a job after a year off might be difficult.

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