Why might I want to take a gap year?

Deciding to take a gap year is a big decision – and at times can be frowned upon. However, if you have reasons for taking a gap year (rather than just because you can’t be bothered to do anything), it won’t be seen as lazy or unproductive at all! Here are some reasons why you might want to take a gap year.

1) You want a break from education

Sick of studying after seven years of secondary school? Don’t blame you, another three years does seem a little bit much if you want to go to university as well. A gap year can help you recoup after finishing your A Levels and evidence suggests that gap year students actually perform better when they go back to education after taking a break.

2) You don’t know what to do

As long as you’re not using this as an excuse just to do nothing, it makes sense to take a break to think about your future. For example, if you think you want to go to university but don’t know what to study, it might be worth waiting on your exam results to work out your strengths, and maybe undertaking some work experience on your year off to see what career you might want to go into to help you choose a degree subject. £9,000 per year is a lot of money to invest into a degree if you’re not sure whether it’s right for you, so it’s worth taking that time to decide.

3) You want to retake your exams

If maybe you missed a university offer and you feel that the only reason you did that was because you didn’t perform your best in your exams, then maybe you’ll consider a year’s break to retake them in either January or June. You might even have changed your mind halfway through the year and decided that you want to go to university, so might wish to retake your exams to boost your grades. Either way, a gap year is a great way to re-sit a couple of subjects without the interference of others, and build on a basic foundation of grades. With so many people going to university these days, it’s important to get to the best university you think you possibly can, so don’t be afraid to take a year out and retake.

4) You want to take your time applying

When you’re studying for your A Levels, deciding which university you would like to go to, what you’d like to study and then actually applying for it can be pretty daunting – and if you’ve got a lot on your plate, you may not have time. You may wish to take a gap year to make sure those decisions are not rushed and you can give your UCAS application the time and attention it needs.

5) You want to save money

Yes, you’re right – going to university is going to cost you a lot of money, especially if you like in a huge city like London. If you work for a year and get together some savings, you’ll have a back-up plan in case your student loan doesn’t end up going very far (tip: it won’t). Use the year as a way of working out a budget for university too!

6) You want to travel

Your younger years, with long holidays and breaks, are the best time to go travelling. Why? Not because you’re young, but because they’re the longest holidays you’ll likely ever get. As soon as you are tied into work it will be difficult to get more than two weeks at a time off, and you’re likely to have other commitments. Going when you’re younger with less commitments and more time will allow you to see more, and of course, add this valuable experience to your CV to boost your career.

7) You want to volunteer

For similar reasons as to above, with less commitment to a full-time job you’d also be able to decide some time to volunteering – whether that be abroad or in the country. Again this will add another edge to your CV and also give you a sense of fulfilment that you have helped out a cause.

8) You want work experience

A number of courses, such as veterinary and medicine in particular, ask for some form of work experience before you apply to their courses. While you were studying for your A Levels you may not have had time to gain such work experience, and perhaps if you were not old enough – a number of places ask for you to be 18 if you’re applying to work with the general public. You may find if you’re a little older too, you may be more successful in gaining work experience as companies might take you more seriously in your career aspirations, and they will likely give you more responsibility. Even if you don’t need the work experience to get onto a certain degree course, you may want to do some to get a feel of different careers and find out what you want to do in the future if you’re not sure, because that should help you choose a degree course (or not to do a degree!).

9) You want to build your CV

If you want to make yourself stand out for a particularly competitive career, then having a gap year to build your CV (by doing the things above) will definitely help. As long as you can explain your reasons for taking a gap year to any employer, demonstrate how it has made you become a more-rounded person and how it has given valuable skills, they won’t look negatively on you either.

10) You’ll become independent

A gap year is the perfect bridge between teenage and adult life. You can get used to budgeting, staying away from your parents and making your own decisions. You may have to make some difficult choices during your gap year and this will help you prepare for the future in more ways than you can conceive until you go through them. A number of universities note that gap year students seem to be more mature than their classmates, and this may well be true.

After considering the above list, you’ll know if you’ve got the right reasons for taking a gap year. If you’re sure – then go for it!