Do you have a son or daughter considering a gap year? Are you confused by the choices out there? A Hume have produced a short, helpful guide to get you started.
Why take a gap year?
Gap years can be used to enhance your CV, travel, learn new skills. Many young people are attracted by the possibility of adventure, or to develop a personal interest (ecological, social or career), or by the simple desire to see the world.
Employers value them for the experiences young people gain managing their time, setting goals, developing independence and resilience, and challenging themselves.
Universities value them as they recognise most former gap year students are generally more focused and responsible.
What can you do?
As gap years have become more popular a whole range of organisations have developed to serve the gap year community. They aim to match gap year youngsters with programmes, opportunities and organisations seeking gap year volunteers, interns and workers. And in doing so maximise the mutual benefits for both.
The opportunities vary enormously in terms of location, duration and the level of commitment required.
Backpacking, Volunteering and Internships
There is generally a charge for these experiences. The charges vary from a couple of hundred pounds to thousands.
Talk to Others
This may sound expensive but the soft skills, and often very real, tangible skills young people learn through these experiences are valuable for personal development. One of the most important things to do when considering your options is to talk to others about their gap year experiences.
Most people know someone who’s been off doing something exciting and as anyone who’s ever spoken to a travel returnee knows, travellers love to talk about their travels. What you want is a warts and all account. So you’re aware of the ups and downs. It’s not paradise everyday – even in paradise.
If there isn’t anyone close to hand there are forums on all the sites.
When to take a gap year?
There is no correct answer to this. It all depends on you and your position. You’ll find a great guide to considering this question here.
Winter and Summer Seasons
Of course you don’t have to go with an organisation that sets it all for you. Independent travel is always an option, or working abroad.
Lots of young people find employment working for travel companies working winter and summer seasons as a Seasonaire. This offers a balance between the security of employment, insurance, travel expenses and in most cases accommodation, and adventure.
Many students choose to work summer seasons during their university and college years.
BUNAC offers a Work Canada, Work Australia and Work New Zealand package that provides varied levels of support to young people. Services range from acquiring visas, access to an employment database to 7-day orientation week.
Natives specialises in ski season employment. They are the go to website for most of the top ski tour operators. They also have a great community section offering information and advice.
Studying abroad is a great option for students who don’t want to take a break from study but still want to experience life overseas.
You don’t have to be a linguist to attend a European University. In the Benelux nations (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) many courses are taught in English. 120 courses at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam are taught in English. Vrije is a campus based university, consistently ranked as one of the world’s top universities.
The United States also attracts a growing number of UK students. Find out more about studying abroad here.
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