Whether you've applied for a deferred university place or are planning on taking a year out after graduating, there are so many fulfilling gap year ideas open to you to consider. From travelling abroad to volunteering locally, here are eight genuine things to consider before you make a plan.
Spoiler alert: contains catching up on sleep, so there's that.
1. Volunteer locally
When you think of volunteering on a 'gap yaaah', images of elephant sanctuaries and nature reserves spring to mind - but you can also make a difference and seek the same kind of fulfilment a little closer to home. The Gap Year Guidebook outline loads of charities that are deserving of your time and effort, even if it's just for a few months, while Volunteering Matters organises community-based placements all over the UK and Do-It list national vacancies.
2. Volunteer abroad
That being said, the opportunity to visit a new country and to help a new community is definitely appealing, and the list of possibilities as to how you can make a difference and what you can do is quite literally endless. But as Rough Guides say, landing a volunteering placement isn't as easy, cheap or Instagram-friendly as you might originally think, and there's a huge checklist of things you need to make sure of before you start.
Book through a trusted organisation, such as Voluntary Service Overseas or Outreach International, work out how long you can afford to finance yourself for without an income and how much time you have to commit, and be willing to work hard.
3. Travel the world
This is basically why people take a gap year, isn't it? To go to incredible beaches, to experience alternative cultures and to eat all the foreign food they've never experienced before. Whether you join a guided tour, grab a mate and plan a route or go it alone with the hope of making friends along the way, a journey into the unknown is seemingly a great way to spend a few months before or after uni. You never know - you might even find yourself. Ahem.
4. Intern or get work experience
Whether pre or post-university, try and commit a substantial chunk of your gap year to interning and getting work experience in the industry you hope to head into later on in life. It'll look great on your CV, offer an insight into whether you actually want to forge a career of your own in the same industry, and, if you're good, they'll remember you for any future vacancies that might come up.
5. Earn some money with paid work
Ask anybody who's ever been a student and they'll tell you that you'll never feel like you have enough money at uni. Which is why saving up a little wad of cash before you go is no bad thing - it'll make your student loan stretch further, cheesy chips more frequent, and the inevitable unexpected expenses that little less painful. Either that, or you can use the money to travel or volunteer without racking up any unwanted debts or an overdraft before you get to uni - because nobody wants that.
Gap360 also outline a number of paid positions you can get abroad, so don't think working on your gap year means you have to stay in your childhood bedroom or work in the local pub - as much as that is an option, everything from working as a nanny in the US or on a ranch in Aus is a possibility, too.
6. Learn on part time courses
Why not take the opportunity to expand your CV that little bit more by taking on a part-time course while you're on your year out? This can be in the UK or abroad, and in everything from foreign languages to counselling or child support. UCAS promote flexible learning with courses that can be studied remotely alongside other commitments while companies like Go Overseas and Study Abroad combine learning and travel in one package.
There are loads of cool opportunities to impart your knowledge onto others in your gap year. You could tutor A-Level students who may be taking on similar subjects to you, share your passion for sport, or teach English as a foreign language abroad. While this usually requires a TEFL qualification (unless you're on certain volunteering courses), you can often gain the academic credits on the course.
Sporting Opportunities outlines all sorts of ways people with passion about sport can use it to their advantage on a gap year, while tutoring - one-on-one or over Skype - can be a great way to make money with knowledge and skills you already have.
8. Catch up on sleep
Is it bad that this is all we want to do right now?
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