Your choices at 18

Gap year

A gap year usually means taking a year out in between your studies, often at age 18 and after Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, etc. There are lots of things you could do on a gap year like travelling, working or volunteering.

Some people apply and get a place at university and then ask for their place to be deferred so that they can have a gap year. Read more about requesting a deferred place when you apply here.

A gap year can offer a great opportunity to develop personal and employability skills or to get experience working in a job area of interest or to meet people from different cultures. Also, some people use their gap year to confirm what sort of job or career they are interested in before they choose their next step. And, for some, having A-Level grades in the bag before applying for university can help decide what and where to apply to, especially if it is a very competitive course or you did better than anticipated.

There are companies which will help you plan your gap year but be warned it all costs money!

If you want the experience of a gap year to help you plan your future work or want to use it to show future employers evidence of your skills or independence, then try and make sure you balance the fun elements with developing useful skills for the future.

Also sell what you have learnt through the experience of a gap year in your applications for jobs and courses.

Find out more about gap years, costs, pros and cons.

Read this article called 'Taking a gap year: should I stay or should I go?'

Here are a few links to gap-year experiences that help develop skills for future life and work:

  • The Year in Industry programme
  • The Year Out group has many different gap year programmes which have been approved for their quality
  • Prospects has a list of gap year opportunities 
  • Travelling is a popular part of a gap year and there are companies such as STA travel that aim to help young people get the most out of their trip.

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