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Gap Year and Your Education

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 6 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Gap Year Education Travel Universities

Many students (and their parents) are worried that a gap year will interrupt their education and thus present an obstacle to their eventual careers. This is just not the case.

Not only are most universities well versed in deferring students due to a gap year but this chance to travel will also afford students the chance to sharpen their "soft skills" and build up their resumes, it may offer students the chance to study abroad and some students may even wind up teaching abroad during their gap year. Though these opportunities may not be in the formal education arena, they are opportunities for growth and education nonetheless and should be welcomed rather than feared.

Deferring University

Universities are well aware that many students want to travel and take a gap year before committing to a course of study. Some universities may even be able to offer advice on getting credit for certain activities or completing courses while abroad. To find out about the possibility of your desired university, get in contact with the university directly to determine if there are any rules or requirements governing students and gap years.

Resume Building

Many employers look favourably on organised, structured gap years which offer young people the chance to strengthen their "soft skills" and engage in activities that help them experience the real world.

Recognised "soft skills" include decision making, relationship building, problem solving, communication, organisation, responsibility, team work, independence and maturity.

Whether they take place at home or abroad, gap years also offer important opportunities to build up a CV such as with work experience, engaging with new cultures, perfecting a foreign language, serving others as a volunteer, growing and maturing as a person and taking the time to reflect on their own personality, skills and desires before fully committing to a course or career.

These are all experiences and skills that students master on their own, not at a company's expense, and thus are attractive to many organisations looking for employees.

Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can mean anything from learning a language to local cookery to contributing to an archaeological dig. Students interested in studying abroad will likely be most successful by working with an established agency. Prior to selecting an agency, students should decide on their interests and budget and should not hesitate to ask questions while booking.

Students interested in studying abroad in order to obtain a recognised qualification should be sure to contact the body governing such qualifications to ensure that they can meet all requirements either before or during their trip. If students are hoping that studying abroad may meet requirements for a diploma or degree programme they should inquire with the specific college or university to learn about their policies.

Teaching Abroad

Gap year students have done everything from teach English as a foreign language to teaching others who to ski or sail. Again, securing a teaching abroad placement will be most successful by working through with an established agency and those who are interested in teaching abroad in order to obtain a recognised qualification such as a TEFL certificate should contact the governing body to ensure that they can meet all of the requirements. Those hoping to teach abroad in order to meet requirements for a diploma or degree programme should inquire with the specific college or university to learn about their policies.

Taking a gap year may put off formal education for a little while, but it also offers students the chance to proceed with their informal education. Deferring a university place to go on gap year may be possible and studying abroad, teaching abroad and building up a resume and soft skills are common ways of making a gap year not just enjoyable but productive as well.

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