Why take a gap year?

Taking a gap year is a growing trend with young students across the world. You can take a gap year at any time of life, however many people embark on a gap year before going into higher education, after higher education or when they have been in the world of work for a while.

With greater expectations from employers, it is important to make productive use of your time out, with a focus on challenging yourself and doing something constructive.

Why take a gap year?

Some of the many benefits of taking a gap year might include:

  • Developing your skills such as organisation, communication, confidence, team work and initiative
  • Improving your CV and making sure that you stand out from the crowd to future employers
  • Taking time to reach the right path – it’s not unusual to feel unsure about what you want to do next, either at university or for work. Taking a gap year allows you to take time out to give you the space to make an informed decision
  • Gaining work experience – whether it be on an internship, a volunteering project or paid work, experience is essential for many careers and universities. Experience does not even need to be relevant to what field you might want to work or study in- just to demonstrate that you held a position of responsibility, had to stick to deadlines, worked hard and challenged yourself is the most important thing.
  • Taking a breather before the next stage – exams are stressful and tiring. Many students find that taking a gap year helps them to return to work or study feeling refreshed and motivated – which in the long term brings better results for you.
  • Becoming more independent whilst also receiving full support from Oyster. A gap year is a great opportunity to do something independent and live away from home for a while.
  • Making new friends and meeting new people – exploring the world and joining a project that you are passionate about means that you will meet lots of likeminded people, and often make friends for life.
  • Having a real adventure off the beaten track. Get under the skin of a country, culture, language and project and really feel that you have got to know somewhere so different in the world.

What do universities think about gap years?

A gap year is a very useful time in which to improve skills, earn money, travel and generally gain maturity and self-reliance.” Cambridge University

  • Universities are overwhelming positive about taking gap years as long as they are constructive and worthwhile
  • If you arrange your gap year early then you can even talk about your plans in your personal statement- which goes a long way
  • Many degrees encourage work experience, such as medical and veterinary, so taking a year out in this case is very much encouraged.
  • Do check with your university admissions departments to see what their exact stance is.

“As long as you are doing something worthwhile in your year out, such as travelling, work experience or charity work etc, we recognise that this year’s experience will broaden your skills and experience.” Cardiff University

What do employers think about taking a gap year?

“The Association of Graduate Recruiters believes that a gap year can be a positive experience as long as the individual does something constructive” Stephen Isherwood, Association of Graduate Employers

  • A constructive gap year can really enhance a CV, and can significantly improve your chances of getting an interview
  • Many employers find that applicants who have taken a gap year are more motivated, self aware and confident than their counterparts
  • Potential employees must be able to articulate their experiences to demonstrate the positives gained

“In a shrinking job market, when you have 300 applications for every place, some 100 of them will be stunning but few will stand out. Those who have taken an interesting gap year will have had the opportunity to progress beyond merely achieving things. At interview they may well come across as personalities. They will have grown up.” Robert Hingley, Lazard investment bank


 “Taking a gap year was the single best decision I ever made, it has mapped out my whole career path and helped me decide on my future!”

Charlotte Gannon, South Africa volunteer 2014