A Level Results 2012 Disappointment? How about a Gap Year?

Well the day has arrived where thousands of students across the country will receive their A Level results. For many (I hope) you get what you want. I’ve worked on a clearing hotline before and it’s not pleasant. You might be left in a situation where your life is heading in a direction you didn’t anticipate. Now I’m not in a position to give you career advice however I can present the option of a Gap Year.

If you want to get a feeling of what a Gap Year is like in under 5 minutes, watch this clip!

Is the Gap Year dead? Naturally it’s evolved over the last ten or twenty years but taken some radical shifts over the last few due to changes in our education system. We may have also seen a decline in the length of a Gap Year. That is to say the amount of time spent travelling which means that a “Gap Year” might be a misnomer. Call it what you will but an extended period of travel longer than a “holiday” out of your comfort zone is still an experience very much alive and kicking. It’s also still very attainable.

It’s true while some travellers may spend their time in a drunken haze (adequately portrayed by the internet sensation Orlando talking about his Gap Yah), there are many personal and professional benefits to be had from travelling if you go about it the right way.

How do you make a Gap Year a worthwhile experience?

Work Experience

Financing a Gap Year is normally everyone’s chief concern and ‘mental roadblock’ when contemplating a Gap Year. One option is to spend part of the year working/temping in the UK and then use that money to travel. Another option is to get valuable work experience while you are abroad. Start thinking ahead, especially with seasonal work abroad. You might need to time your round the world ticket with certain seasons and countries. Perhaps you could work a ski season in New Zealand next year? How about you teach English as a foreign language in China? You could get a working holiday visa (WHV) for places like Australia or Canada. On my Gap Year I did random jobs from retail and trucking to event management and running pub crawls! The possibilities are endless. Think global.

Career Prospects

Real Gap Experience conducted a survey of over 500 UK businesses with some interesting results. Let me drop some knowledge on you…

Responses showed that:

  • 61% of business’ believe that travel can demonstrate a candidate’s ability to act independently.
  • 53% of business’ have the view that travel enables an individual to put themselves in different environments.
  • 46% of business’ feel that you will be comfortable meeting and engaging with new people as a result of travel.
  • 42% of business’ now believe that non-academic experience is more valuable than 10 years ago.
  • Having done a Gap Year myself I know these statements to be true but it’s great to know that employers feel the same way about Gap Years and travel.

Volunteering

Real Gap’s survey found 1 in 2 employers concede that voluntary work experience abroad has a positive impact on their decision to interview a candidate. How about you save turtles and surf in Costa Rica? How does learning martial arts with Shaolin Monks in China take your fancy? You could work in a community in Zimbabwe or on a lion breeding programme in South Africa. There are so many options for positive volunteering throughout the world. Check out Real Gap Experience for inspiration.

Experiences

It doesn’t have to be all work and no play. If you’re looking for inspiration of things you could get up to we have plenty of articles, features and posts on this site.

Here are just a few:

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to browse around the rest of our site for more inspiration.

Whether you are off to university, work or travel, I’ll offer my own general piece of advice. Life doesn’t ever go the way you think it will. I never went to my first choice university thanks to an exam board mess up. My Gap Year journey didn’t even go “right”. I had to skip Cambodia and Vietnam because I got caught in a Typhoon and a sacked of a trip to Vancouver to go to stay with a Sorority in Alabama. But you know what? I don’t care. Every little set back, change of plan or disappointment still led me to this point in time and well, I’m doing just fine.

I’ll leave you with some food for thought:

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it”.  ~Mary Engelbreit

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  ~Victor Frankl

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse!  As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.”  ~Washington Irving

“Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed.”  ~Irene Peter

“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”  ~Pauline R. Kezer

“We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.”  ~Harrison Ford

1 Comment

  • Nadia | Gap Daemon

    August 18, 2011

    Nice post… I think it’s so important to let people know that even if they don’t get the grades they need, it’s not the end of the world. An “enforced” gap year can be a really posistive thing; and you can absolutely make money while you travel (TEFLing etc). It’s just such a shame that anyone who doesn’t make it to university this year faces such a huge hike in tuition fees next.

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