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Taking an Unplanned Gap Year

Taking an Unplanned Gap Year

If you’ve missed your grades, or perhaps have done significantly better than expected, you may find yourself wanting to take a gap year, to reapply, or resit some exams. Maybe you’ve even realised that you aren’t ready for university yet, or that you’ve changed your mind about the institutions you’ve applied to. Although this year out will be unplanned, it can be a blessing. Here’s some suggestions for productive ways to use this time:


With all the talk we hear of student debt, an obvious option for your gap year is to work to save up some money. You could use this to pay for your first year of university, to buy a car, or to travel. This has the added benefit of giving you more material to write about in your CV and your personal statement if you reapply. If you are struggling to find a job, consider applying for high turnover zero-hour contract events companies as these hire most people who apply. You could also apply for temporary Christmas positions. Due to the number of short term staff needed, employers are more lenient on the requirements for staff. This is also because temporary workers are often delegated one specific task rather than multiple duties. Promising workers are sometimes given the opportunity to apply to become full time staff, so if you work hard this can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Even if you don’t get a full-time position, this employer will be able to provide you with a valuable reference, and will add to your level of experience. You could also apply for newly opening restaurants, cafes, or shops, as these usually need to hire a lot of staff at one time, meaning that they cannot be as selective.


If you missed your grades, this could be the time to resit exams. Plan out what course units you need to redo, and factor in some time to revise for this. If you’re only resitting a couple of things, it should be easier this time as you’ll have less material to focus on. If you’ve done better than expected, you could use this time to take a course at a local college. This is the perfect time to take up a new hobby or study a new interest, or to become more adept in one your already have. Maybe you’ve always loved photography, but don’t want to go into this career field. Depending on what courses are available, you could even get another qualification.


Although it is a little cliched, the ‘Gap Yah’ is one of the best opportunities for extended travel that many people get throughout their lives. You probably don’t have many personal or financial responsibilities so there’s relatively little tying you down. If you haven’t planned to take a gap year, you may not have saved up enough money to travel. In this situation, many young people choose to work for the first six months of the year to accumulate funds and make any necessary plans or bookings for their journey. After which, they will then travel for the remainder of the year.


If you want to do something to make a positive difference, there are a huge number of volunteering opportunities. You could combine volunteering with travel and do things like building a school in South Asia. However, this can be expensive and you will probably need to raise funds to do this. If this isn’t an option for you, remember how many volunteering opportunities are available at home. If you dream of working in publishing, try contacting your local library or charity book shop.

Apply for internships or work experience

These are great short-term ways of finding out what a particular industry is really like to work in. Often these are unpaid, but some internships will pay minimum wage, and others will cover expenses. Perhaps you’ll do work experience in a field that’s always interested you and realise it isn’t how you pictured it, maybe you’ll try something new and realise you love it.

  • By Pippa Coster

Posted in Advice on Aug 16, 2018 by

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