Mind the gap: Seven ways to make the most of your gap year

by SeanSPaul

This article explores seven ways that you can really make a gap year between your A-levels and higher education

Taking a year out of study should be thought through and planned with as much care as the choice of a prospective course or university. After all, it is not often in life you are gifted with a year to do whatever you want. Here are seven ways you can make your gap year count.

Become a Chad

A Chad is a charity adventure and it is a great way to challenge your organisational skills and physical endurance. Basically you and some friends agree to raise funds for a charity by collecting sponsorship for an extreme adventure overseas – such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or taking a tuk tuk from London to Bangkok. The choice of ‘stunt’ is yours but it provides a way to do some good and really prove your ability to organise and execute complex projects.

Start at home

They say that charity starts at home: not all gap year volunteering or fundraising needs to involve far-flung travel. Travelling the world can be pricey, but there is plenty to get stuck into in the UK.

Many organisations offer accommodation and living allowances for a wide variety of voluntary placements. These represent the chance to live away from home for the first time and try work in a field you feel may interest you.

Do something worthwhile worldwide

For those spending their money and time on a gap year abroad it is well worth considering a stint of overseas volunteering. It is a chance to learn new skills, make new friends and see new places.

Learn a language

Nothing boosts your CV more than learning a new language. You can easily combine learning a language alongside travel by studying in a languages domestic country. You can even do it for free by using websites that enable you to offer the extremely precious commodity of your English in exchange for someone else’s language. You get to know your hosts and can organise your own language exchange where you visit them and they visit you. So you get travel, a new tongue and a friend all in one neat little package.

Sail the seas

How about crewing a yacht across the seven seas? Organisations including the Tall Ships Youth Trust help youngsters to develop by allowing them to sail their fleet of yachts around the world. You will get to set the sails, handle the ropes, take the helm and do all that is needed to keep a boat in shipshape condition on your voyage of a lifetime.

Teach to travel

It can be expensive to travel but the good news is you could gain experience as a teacher in Asia and fund your travels round the world. You can gain a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification before you travel for under £300 on an intensive weekend course.

You can choose to gain the second part of your qualification through distance learning as you travel, which will mean you can earn more for your work, or you can just start applying for jobs with your basic training.

Take a turn as an intern

If you are keen to work in a chosen field why not apply for internships with local companies or organisations? It will help you decide exactly what you are interested in and really show your dedication and enthusiasm to future employers.

Mind the gap

Whatever you do on a gap year make sure it doesn’t just fall into a hole by planning something special for what is a really special year.

What would you like to do on your gap year?

Resource box

Sail around the world

Explore how Tall Ships Youth Trust can arrange for you to crew a yacht overseas

Language exchange programmes

Find a language partner overseas to exchange your English with

Gap year ideas

Research hundreds of other worthwhile ideas for your gap year

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Updated: 07/13/2012, SeanSPaul
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Tereza on 07/13/2012

hmm. I shall not lose this article, thinking to take a gap year after next summer:)

Mary on 07/13/2012

I would love to use my gap year fro volunteering or sailing on a ship. never thought I could do both at the same time.

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