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Gap Year

Need a break before continuing with education or work?


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


"A gap year can give you great experiences, great memories and maybe even a head start in your future career."

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Not everyone wants to go straight from school to work or college. If you want some time out, travel or to discover new interests, a gap year can be a wonderful opportunity for adventure, learning and life experience. It can enhance your CV or be a time to travel the world; you might decide to volunteer or learn a new language.  It can be one of the most wonderful experiences of your life.

Before you decide to take a gap year, have a good think about what you want from the year and how you will plan your time. Are you taking a gap year because your friends are doing so? Are you taking it because you are confused about college courses? If you feel that you are too young or you are not ready for work or college, then this could be a valid reason to take a year to mature.

If you are sure that you are taking time out for the right reasons, try to research college courses or job opportunities before you go away. You might be able to defer a place at university or have a job lined up for when you come back. Plus, it has been shown that students who take a gap year are less likely to drop out of university/ college than students who do not take one.

Some people spend their gap year in Ireland volunteering, working, or in unpaid work experience, so that they can make a difference in the world or learn more about their career options. Others go abroad to travel, see the world or volunteer; and they sometimes take on casual work to pay their way. Others get better paying jobs such as au-pairing, camp counselling or kibbutz work. Some use the time to study a language or get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification.

Now onto an important aspect: money. Research the living and travelling costs of the countries you plan to visit before you go (via books, the Internet and friends). This way you will have an idea of how much you want to save if you intend to spend all your time travelling.

He'd want to keep an eye on his bags!

Above all else, enjoy yourself! A gap year can give you great experiences, great memories and maybe even a head start in your future career. Go for it!

What others say

“Taking a year out isn't for everyone, so be sure you have your own reasons for doing so and don’t just accept it because someone else thinks it to be a good idea.”

“If you decide to take a year out it is important to have a plan for the year because a year is a long time when you have nothing to do. Although sitting around the house watching “Murder, she wrote” sounds like the perfect life, it has a tendency to get slightly boring after Jessica saves the day…yet again…who saw it coming?! So it may be a good idea to find out about courses or voluntary opportunities in your area.”

“College isn’t for everyone and taking a year out may help you decide what's best for you. If you do plan on going to college after the year then try to use the year to research courses and shop around for different things. It’s important not to waste a whole year doing nothing  because after that it could be hard to get motivated for college or for anything else you want to do.”

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Published November 28th, 2012
Last updated March 31st, 2017
Tags travel activism working abroad volunteer
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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