The academic year is now over and the Brillantmont International School summer course, for students aged 11-16, has started. However, for some 17 and 18-year-olds who have reached the end of their school career and opted not to go straight to university, an entire gap year of possibilities lies ahead.
Reasons for taking a gap year
It is very common for students leaving school to decide that, rather than dive head first into higher education, they would prefer to take a year out to experience the world. After studying hard for exams and working tirelessly to secure a university place, it is no wonder that many long to take up a new challenge.
Moreover, this may be the only chance that students have for an extended trip abroad without the responsibilities of adult life – university is generally followed by the world of employment, financial pressures and family commitments; few of us will ever know again the freedom that we had at the age of 18.
Advantages of taking a gap year
There are a host of benefits from taking a gap year. For many students, it is their first taste of real independence. This can be a vital and steep learning curve, ensuring a smoother transition from school to university. Gap years allow people to learn about themselves, their ambitions and their interests; they also encourage students to broaden their horizons and understand different cultures. Gap years can turn slightly insecure teenagers into mature, confident adults, with impressive interpersonal skills and vital life experience.
Gap year options
Gap year possibilities are endless. For those with a sense of adventure, gap years can be the perfect time to climb a mountain, trek the Inca trail, tour South East Asia or learn deep-sea diving. Others choose volunteering projects, allowing them to build links in a particular community and give something back to society. Further gap year possibilities include learning a new language, completing an internship, teaching English, or getting involved in wildlife conservation.
Gap year opportunities and resources
There are gap year opportunities for every type of person, and every budget. Some companies, like Raleigh International, organise bespoke trips and volunteer programmes, which can be useful for reassuring parents that the gap year will be safe and productive. For those who are more spontaneous and would rather set off with a backpack and a one-way ticket, websites and online communities like www.gapyear.com provide useful tips on safety, visas, working abroad and finding accommodation.
Gap years offer the chance to gain confidence and independence, meet diverse and interesting new people, and learn important life skills; all of which universities, future employers and students themselves will truly value.