What are the reasons to take a gap year?

Many school-leavers in the UK take what is called a gap year – a year between leaving school and further education.  In this year, they do voluntary or paid work, often abroad. People who take a year out before going to university and use that time to gain more skills are more attractive candidates for jobs that those who go straight from school to university. Employers are particularly interested in the skills that students pick up when travelling, volunteering and working:

  • the ability to show initiative, responsibility and persistence
  • open-mindedness
  • ability to focus on getting ahead
  • art of communication, teamwork, leadership and achieving goals.
  • ability to cope with difficult situations.

There are many reasons to take a gap year

The number of students who take a gap year is growing.

  • Firstly, some school-leavers are happy to be out of the school system at last and want to have some time to do something interesting or crazy before they go back into the educational system.
  • Secondly, some students want to earn money to pay their university fees.
  • Thirdly, some teeagers feel they want to do something useful with their lives.
  • Moreover, there are those who want to get away from home and see the world.
  • Finally, there are those students who want to prepare themselves better for the job market once they get their degrees.

Types of Gap Year Activities

School-leavers can choose from a wide range of activities for their gap year.

  1. They can take part in adventure project, like an expedition to some remote corner of the earth, which can be really exciting and it has the advantage of travelling as part of a group and making some life-long friends.
  2. They can work on a conservation or environmental project, like conducting and underwater survey of a coral reef or monitoring endangered species.
  3. They can do temporary or seasonal work abroad and this way get insight into a very different way of life.
  4. They can join a humanitarian project, such as doing doing social work with people in need. 
  5. They can join a structured work experience programme and gain valuable experience and practical skills in their chosen field.

Don’t turn the gap into a blank hole

School-leavers who take a gap year come back with maturing skills, a real sense of achievement and new perspective on life. But some locations aren’t for faint-hearted. Voluntary work can be tough. Students may be out in the middle of nowhere, feeling isolated and having trouble coping with the complete culture shock. So it’s important to research the oppotunities and take time to read what other ‘gappers’ say about their experience of volunteering overseas. It’s also important to plan the year properly. Many students fail to plan properly and do not take advantage of the opportunities on offer.

Check whether you know these words

  • confidence – впевненість
  • an employer – роботодавець
  • an employee – працівник
  • a fee – гонорар, платня
  • a founder – засновник
  • persistence – наполегливість
  • a volunteer – волонтер
  • to mature – подорослішати
  • to trust – довіряти
  • extended – продовжений, тривалий
  • faint-hearted – легкодухий, боягузливий
  • isolated – ізольований, відокремлений
  • remote – віддалений
  • tough – важкий
  • overseas – за кордоном
  • to conduct a survey – проводити обстеження
  • to get insight into – проникнути в суть
  • to work on a project – працювати над проектом
  • retire – залишати посаду, вийти на пенсію
  • retirement – відставка, вихід на пенсію
  • succeed – досягати успіху
  • an opportunity – можливість
  • open-minded – сприйнятливий, з широким кругозором
  • open-mindedness – широта світогляду

Speak about the reasons to take a gap year, its advantages and disadvantages.