Gap year

A gap year is where you take time out at the end of your course before seeking graduate opportunities or commencing further study. 

Whether you decide to travel abroad, remain in the UK, or a combination of the two, there are several benefits to taking a gap year. You could:

  • gain work experience, particularly in temporary, part-time roles, or in a gap-year internship
  • participate in a conservation project or volunteer
  • further develop the transferable skills you acquired during your course
  • learn a new skill or gain knowledge which will help with your future career.
  • take time to reflect on your career options and preferences.

To help structure your gap year, you could enrol on a formal programme of teaching, study or work. For some ideas, see what are my gap year options (TARGETjobs).

What to consider

When thinking about taking a gap year, you should consider:

  • how you will fund your gap year, particularly if you intend to travel
  • what impact taking a gap year may have on repaying any debt you have accrued during your course
  • when you should apply to any graduate schemes you may be interested in for the following year
  • what you will do during your gap year to continue to develop your skills and experiences to enhance your future employability.

With so many gap year and volunteering opportunities available, it is vital you take the time to carefully research your options before applying. Find out as much as possible about the organisation and opportunity you are interested in. Does it have a good reputation? Can it provide you with feedback or testimonies from students and graduates who have previously worked there?

You should also research any costs involved in participating in organised schemes. Make sure you understand what safety checks you need to make and what insurance cover you may need to have.

Whatever you hope to achieve during a gap year, it’s important to ensure the decision to take one is right for you. You should not take a gap year because you don’t know what else you could do instead. If you're not sure what to do, you can book an appointment with a careers adviser and look at the list of sector pages for ideas of what your future career could look like.