Taking a gap year between school and university can be a fantastic way to improve your chances of getting a place on the course you want, as well as to find good employment in the future.
But a successful gap year needs to be well-planned so that you can get the most from it, and not just end up wasting your time off. That doesn’t mean you can’t have plenty of fun too, just that it’s better not to treat it as one long holiday.Planning Advice for your Gap Year
With summer around the corner, many 18-year olds that are not heading straight to either university or employment will already be some way into planning their gap year. Here’s how to ensure you get the maximum benefit from it…Manage your finances well
A gap year can cost a lot of money if it involves travelling the world. You might have the chance to fund it from your earnings before leaving, or you might be planning to work your way around the world, but either way the ability to budget will serve you well at university. The responsibilities needed for a gap year also help you when it comes to cooking for yourself, buying ingredients and so forth, and searching for the best rates on transport or accommodation.Keep an open mind
Of course you don’t need to travel on your gap year. You may find plenty of ways to earn money for university, or experiences to boost your prospects, right on your own doorstep. But most students do choose to go abroad for their gap years, and with this comes the opportunity to discover new cultures and ways of life that can broaden your thinking in many ways. Gift experiences are a great way to see a different side to a destination, and worth keeping in mind if you’re celebrating a birthday on the road, as the vouchers can be sent via email.Earn as much as you can
The more money you have available, the longer you can go away for, the more you can see and do. It will also mean better choices when it comes to accommodation and food – imagine, a single room in a hostel once in a while! If you’re planning to earn while you travel, then it’s vital to arrange your work visas before leaving. Otherwise your options will be seriously limited as many employers in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the USA will insist on correct documentation before employing you.Choose your work experience well
A gap year is the perfect chance to get some experience in your chosen career, as there are often unpaid voluntary positions available that will allow you to get a foot in the door and learn new skills. With that in mind, it’s important to find something that will be a good fit for what you plan to do in the future, as long as you know what that is, of course! Getting a good reference from your employer, and keeping track of your accomplishments in each role, will also help when it comes to your university application.Find causes close to your heart
You can also use your gap year to make a contribution to causes that are important for you, such as environmental projects. These might be far afield or closer to home, and could involve working or raising money through sponsored activities. This can often be a very rewarding way to spend a gap year, but if you are volunteering then don’t see it as just a box-ticking exercise. Bre prepared to commit to a longer-term project where you can really make an impact as well as develop as a person.Share your experiences
The days of the longform email are largely over, and phone calls home can often be prohibitively expensive. Nowadays many travellers can take advantage of technology to either vlog their experiences, or put them on a blog. Setting up a Youtube channel or a simple blog doesn’t take long, and is a handy way for friends and family back home to stay in touch with your adventures. Who knows, if you’re good at it then it could even earn you some money.Remember to have fun
The best gap years are a mix of productivity, giving back and fun, so remember to save time and money to reward yourself following the efforts of your study. Indulge in your hobbies, relax on paradise beaches or hit the local bars with your new travelling friends. You’ve earned it after all.