Should I take a gap year?

A year out can be very appealing – after all, who wouldn’t love to do something different and shake things up for a bit?

But it’s important to make that time count. We’ve asked our experts to explain why a gap year can be a valuable experience, and how to make the most of it.

Our experts explain how a gap year can become a valuable asset.

Gap years: What to think about

  • Natural breaks, like finishing school completing a degree, can often feel like the right time to take a gap year.
  • A gap year can give you the opportunity to think about what you’re going to do in your career. We all have to work for a very long time, so it’s good to have time to reflect before starting your journey in the world of employment.
  • Ask yourself: How is a gap year going to contribute to your CV?
  • It’s important to do things that are considered to be positive and important for your personal development. That way, if future employers quiz you about gaps in your employment or education, you can explain how that time contributed to your growth.
  • Some amazing things you could do to develop your skills during a gap year include: doing some work experience, travelling the world, volunteering.
  • Some gap year activities, like moving abroad to become fluent in a foreign language, could count towards a degree or help you massively in your studies.
  • Think of the practicalities: how are you going to finance your gap year? Is the timing right? What do you want to achieve? How long can you take a break for?
  • Some universities will allow you to take a year out. This is sometimes referred to as voluntary suspension, intermission or leave of absence. You must seek your university’s permission to take a break and return to your studies, and unis are not obliged to grant it to you. It can also affect your student loans and tuition fees, so check with your finance officer before taking any decisions.
  • Some companies will also allow you to take a career break. This means you can take some unpaid leave for an extended period of time.
The Student Room: Got questions about gap years?
Childline: How can I make a decision?
Forging your own path