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Should I take a gap year?

Things to think about when considering a gap year.

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You may be thinking about taking a year out before embarking on higher education and most universities have no objection to this. However, it is always best to check with the institution(s) you plan to apply to, and it's vital to make your plans clear if you plan to defer entry. This can be done by looking at the relevant sections on  the UCAS (UK) or Central Applications Office (Republic of Ireland) websites. Both websites will help you make everything clear on your application form.

A year out can provide an opportunity to learn new skills, increase your confidence and gain experience of working in an environment completely different from that at school or college. You may choose to look for work, an internship or work experience in an area relevant to your chosen course to gain useful experience, or help you decide if this is the future for you. If you decide to do this, the organisation YINI (Year in Industry) can help you find a paid placement. Alternatively, you may prefer to do some voluntary work either at home or abroad, or take a part-time course to learn a new skill.

Whatever you decide to do, you should think carefully beforehand about your goals, how you can achieve them and what you will gain from the experience. Your university or future employer may ask you to demonstrate what you learnt so it’s important that this time out is productive. Research your decision carefully and always seek information from people who have been on your chosen scheme beforehand. Most reputable organisations are more than happy for you to talk to other people who they have helped before.

Another consideration you should take into account is your personal finances. Work out what you need to cover airfares, visas or vaccinations and when these need to be paid. It is sensible to make sure you have some funds left for emergencies, or when you return to take up your vocational or academic placement.

Here's our selection of useful links (in no particular order) which may give you some more ideas:


Last updated: February 2018

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Laboratory technician apprenticeships are available at a variety of chemical companies with an average starting salary (once qualified) of £13,000-£16,000