A gap year is when you take time out after completing studies at sixth form or college. But they can be taken by anyone at any stage of life.
A gap year can be used to develop skills and experience and can allow you to save money. It can help you to decide and prepare for your next steps.
Find out about Gap year
Some examples of how gap years are spent include:
- Work experience – gaining relevant experience can help with deciding on a career path. It can also help you get a better understanding of what a career you’re interested in is like. It’s a good way to make new contacts, develop skills and meet new people. Find out more about how to get experience
- Travelling – travelling the world, meeting new people and experiencing new things. Travelling can improve confidence and independence skills but can cost money
- Working – earn money. This can be in the UK or abroad. It’s a great way to experience the world of work and develop skills. Earning a wage could be a way to save money before you return to education
- Volunteering – you could volunteer in the UK or abroad. It’s a great way to get experience whilst helping others. Find out more about the benefits of volunteering
- Courses or resits - studying a course or taking resits can help you build on qualifications that you may need for your next steps
Is a gap year right for me?
Think about why you are considering a gap year and what you want to gain from it. Whatever your reason you will need to plan your gap year to make sure you get the most out of it.
Pros of taking a gap year
Some of the pros of taking a gap year could be:
- Develop your independence and maturity
- Become more focused on a future career
- A chance to work and earn money to help with the cost of higher education in the future
- Gain work experience to help you decide on a career path
- Develop further skills to add to your CV
- Build your confidence by doing new things such as meeting new people, experiencing a place of work or planning your travel arrangements
- Travel will allow you to meet new people and experience and learn new things
- Making new friends and contacts could benefit you when you’re looking for work in the future
- Rest and recover, so when you return to education you will be fresh and ready to study
Cons of taking a gap year
Some of the cons of taking a gap year could be:
- For some a gap year can be too long and could affect long term plans
- Earning a wage can make it difficult to return to education as you’ll be used to a routine and having money
- Unless carefully planned a year out may be wasted
- Some gap year plans cost money for example, travel can be expensive depending on what you decide to do. This can be additional cost to high education fees
- Changes to student finance may happen so it’s worth looking into this before deciding on a gap year
Things to consider before taking a gap year
Use you time wisely. An employer may want to know what you did in your gap year. To get the most out of your gap year it’s important to plan.
You need to consider things like:
- What you want to experience on your gap year
- When to apply for work experience
- How long you want to be away from education
- Make sure you give yourself enough time to plan
- Do your research if you plan to travel. Read about the country and their travel requirements before you plan to travel. Find out more on Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
- Try and speak to someone who’s been on a gap year, look for inspiration on social media and forums and fully research your options by looking at the websites below
- Some companies will arrange a gap year for you but this will come at an additional cost
Deferring University - if you are certain you want to return from your gap year to university then it’s important to contact your chosen university to explain why you want to defer. Each university will assess differently. Take a look at going to university.
Student Finance - student finance can change so it’s worth keeping updated with the current situation before planning a year out before university. Take a look at Student Finance Wales.
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