Student Strategies: The Ins and Outs of Taking a Gap Year

You’ve just finished high school, and you’re thinking of going to university, but you don’t want to rush in. After all, you’ve just spent years studying. Maybe you need a gap year.

What’s A Gap Year?

A gap year is the time between when you finish your high school studies and when you enroll in university. Many students take a gap year to travel, gain new life experiences, or do other activities that help them during their college years.

A gap year can be a great experience for students who are planning on studying at university, and it’s important to consider your options to take a year off and the effect it’ll have on your application and acceptance.

The One Mistake You Must Avoid On Your Gap Year

There’s nothing wrong with taking a gap year. But, if done incorrectly, it could seriously jeopardize your chances at getting into a good program when you want to continue your studies.

First of all, if you’re going to take a year off even if it’s only to rent a flat with a few other people. This shows some measure of responsibility when you return and it can help you secure housing when you get back from traveling. Perhaps you can negotiate a low rent while you’re away with the condition that you will, at some point, return and need some room for yourself.

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Your flatmates will probably appreciate the extra space for a year and be ready and waiting for you when you come back.

And, you won’t have to look for student housing when you’re done with your year off either since you’ve already secured a place – one less thing to do and much less stress than competing with other students who all need housing at the last minute.

But, the one mistake that most students make when they leave is to not get the life experiences they need which are also relevant to their studies and future work.

It’s common, unfortunately, for students to view the gap year as a way to goof off or relax. Really, you should be looking for ways to improve your own skillsets and learn new things before you enroll in formal studies.

When you approach it this way, you’re actually making yourself look more attractive to potential universities since they will be more likely to accept you when you apply.

How To Get Accepted At Your University After The Gap Year

The way to get accepted by your university of choice is, of course, to apply and make sure you fulfill the basic requirements. But, beyond that, having real life experience as well as academic ones is important.

Universities don’t just want to see that you’ve been in school your whole life. They want to know that you have something to offer the university, that you’d “make it” in the real world, and that you bring something unique to the table that other students might not.

While most students are relaxing during a gap year, or traveling, but without any real purpose, you can spend time working, volunteering, doing an internship, and preparing and advancing skillsets before you get to college.

That way, the admissions office knows you’re serious.

When You Should Apply For School

You should apply early, and check with universities before you take a gap year. Some universities don’t like to see a break in schooling – called “deferred entry.” So, make sure that you mention it before making a decision either way, and definitely when you return to apply for university.

If your chosen university doesn’t accept deferred entry, or they frown on it, you have a decision to make. You can either choose a different university or you can skip your gap year and enroll right now. Of course, if you don’t take that gap year, you’re probably only missing out on work experience.

As bad as that sounds, you can make it up when you graduate, and you’ll have the rest of your life to do it.

For some, the gap year is the only period of time that’s practical to do some traveling, see the world, and experience other cultures. This is a formative time in your life, so don’t make this decision lightly.

You only get to make this decision once in your life, which is a lot to ask of a young student. Get advice from your counselor, your parents, your friends. But, in the end, the decision rests entirely on your shoulders. So, choose wisely.

Ryan Lamb is an education liaison officer who deals with multiple student queries ranging from housing to gap years to finances. He writes on student topics for parenting, education and college related blogs sharing his knowledge.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Jennifer

    I would urge students to do a gap year before going to University. I think by taking a gap year to both travel and work you can be truely sure what it is that you want to study as it makes a huge impact on the rest of your life (yes you could retrain if you change your mind later in life – but it is more different if you are in your 30s and 40s just to do a whole different degree). Take the time now to make sure you have choosen the right subject – and a gap year can definately help. A gap year will provide the opportunity to talk to people from many walks of life and in careers you hadn’t even considered

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