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4 Crucial Questions For Gap Year Planning

Anyone considering gap year programs should answer a few important questions before making decisions and finalising plans. Good preparation and understanding the options will result in a year that can bring benefits and memories that last a lifetime.

Think ahead

First, before getting into the specifics about the gap year itself, give thought to the following year. Are you planning to attend university? If so, it’s a good idea to find out if it would be better to apply before your gap year, or after. Inquire with your preferred universities.

Sometimes it’s logistically easier to make your university application before leaving on a gap year adventure. Also, if you travel out of the country, communicating with the university of your choice could be difficult.

Investigate these alternatives so you won’t have lost time after you return from your gap year experience.

Gap year goals

While people of all ages plan for gap years, typically it is the younger ones who opt to take off for a year for travel, education abroad or other reasons. For these younger gap year adventurers, it’s critical to consider future goals while planning. So you must ask yourself, what do you want to get out of your gap year?

Gaining experience, broader exposure to the world and better interpersonal skills are just some of the goals you can accomplish through a gap year, and these can significantly improve your readiness for any career you decide to pursue in the future. For example, if you choose to volunteer work overseas you can sample various job situations as well as gain exposure to cultures.

Authors of The Gap Year Advantage surveyed university graduates who had experienced a gap year and found that fully 60 per cent said their gap years had affected their major course of study and careers—either by confirming their choices or by inspiring them in new directions. They said their experiences were unlike anything they could have received in the classroom.

Finding the best place

Before heading out on a gap year adventure, take an inventory of your skills and compare it to various needs around the world. Where will your skills be most useful and beneficial? Many find that heading to a less developed nation enables them to make better use of their skills.

For example, the organisation My Gap Year has its focus on sending volunteers to Cambodia where it sponsors language classes and sustainable projects in rural villages. In areas like this, where the needs are great and the local resources few, young volunteers often enjoy a very meaningful experience by utilising their skills to the fullest. Opportunities like this can be somewhat limited in more highly developed areas.

Post gap year

Think about what your life will be like after a gap year adventure. Ask yourself, will you be ready to pick up your life when you return? Typically younger people come back from the year feeling like they have gone through a lot of maturing in a short amount to time. Many believe they are far better prepared for school after the time off.

For others though, especially when a gap year is followed by continuing education, it can mean quite an adjustment and settling back into routine activities. If you’re seriously thinking of entering a gap year program, make sure you are able to adapt to these changes should they come.

If you’ve got clear answers to all four of these questions and feel that you are fully ready, then it’s time to pack your bags and get ready for a year away you’ll never forget.

Debra Wright blogs about a plethora of topics including volunteer work overseas in Travelling and other fields. Wright considers My Gap Year as one of the leaders in organising volunteer holidays.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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