Taking a gap year between school and university, or university and your first job, can be a life-changing experience. Without the constraints of work, home and study, that first taste of real freedom can shape you as a person and have a real impact on your future.
Every year we see many gap year travellers join our ski and snowboard programs, but whether you backpack through Asia, work in Australia, or do a ski season in Canada, you’ll meet incredible people, discover new passions, and do things you never dreamed were possible. When it’s time to come home, you’ll return with a host of skills to add to your CV, a network of new friends and, for some, a whole new outlook on life.
Here’s our top ten reasons to take a year out.
1. Make important life decisions
Taking time out to think about your future can be invaluable. Around one in five university students don’t finish the course they initially started and many retrain after graduation.
Experiencing new places, people and lifestyles will open your eyes to a world of new opportunities. Talking to people and taking a step back from work and study can help you to make the right decisions about your education, career and the sort of life you want to lead.
2. Explore your passions
Take up photography, surf your way around the world or qualify as a ski instructor. Whatever you’ve always wanted to do, a gap year is your opportunity to indulge in your passions, develop your talents, and learn new skills.
This can set you up for an even better time at university, as you’ll be ready and raring to get involved in activities, clubs and trips. Having a sport or hobby you love also lays the foundations for a better work-life balance in the future.
3. Enhance your CV
Doing well in exams may help you to get a place at university, but you’ll need more than good grades to bag a great job and succeed in life. From teamwork and leadership, to budgeting and decision-making, a well-structured gap year draws out the real-world skills that employers and universities look for.
To maximise this, make the most of your time away by choosing high-value experiences that relate to you career plans – this could be something like conservation work, a ski instructor course, or working with children. The skills you develop will make you stand out from the crowd and put you top of the pile.
4. Get to grips with new cultures
Whether you travel overland through Africa, teach English in Japan, or spend six months in South America, you’ll gain cultural exposure that would be impossible to experience in your home country. Appreciating the different lifestyles, challenges, opportunities and traits of other societies can help to make you a more rounded and empathetic person.
This open-minded attitude could have a valuable impact on your work and relationships, and may even affect the way you approach life and other people.
5. Make lifelong friends
Some of your fondest gap year memories will no doubt involve the new friends you make and the amazing experiences you share together. There’s a higher chance that you’ll meet people with similar passions and interests if you choose an activity-focused gap year like a ski season or teaching English abroad. At the end of your trip, you’ll find yourself with a network of lifelong friends that live all over the world.
6. Learn a language
A gap year abroad is such a great opportunity to learn another language. Make more of this opportunity by joining a local language class, immersing yourself in the culture, and making friends with native speakers.
Good gap year language options include: living in China and learning to speak Mandarin, working in France to improve your French, and volunteering in South America to boost your Spanish. (And for anyone considering qualifying as a snowsports instructor, if you lock down your Spanish, you could end up teaching on the slopes of Argentina or Chile.)
7. Discover who you are
Living away from home, managing a budget and taking responsibility for yourself can fast track your personal development and help to grow your confidence, maturity and independence.
You’ll also develop better self-awareness and learn more about your own values and beliefs. This process can be hugely valuable, but it’s easily overlooked when you’re busy with work and study, or you’re being influenced by friends and family. In this sense, a gap year can help you to discover who you really are.
8. Enjoy being truly free
There are few times in life when you can truly be free. No exams to revise for, no career ladder to climb, no mortgage to pay. Even if you choose to work during your gap year, you won’t be under the same sort of pressure as you will in a long-term career.
This feeling can be truly liberating, and if you have the opportunity to explore the world, you should grasp it with both hands. You can do what you want, when you want, and don’t have to give a reason for doing it.
9. KICK-START YOUR JOB OR DEGREE
If you’ve already got a job or university place lined up, use your gap year to give yourself a head start.
Aspiring marine biologists can get involved with marine conservation projects. Budding architects can scour the world for inspiring buildings and installations. History students can delve deeper into a country’s past at museums, landmarks and ancient relics. And entrepreneurs can seek inspiration from start-ups and successful businesses.
Studies have shown that those who embark on a gap year are more prepared for university and more engaged with university life. You’ll arrive with recharged batteries, life experience under your belt, sky-high confidence, plenty of stories and a host of new skills.
10. See the world
A gap year is the perfect opportunity to explore the world and step outside of your comfort zone. Travelling will teach you things that can't be learned in any other way.
All the experiences you face, good or bad, will help to shape you as an individual. You’ll become a more flexible and tolerant person, and learn to appreciate the non-material things in life. Travelling is truly one of the best things you can do.
Spend your gap year qualifying as an instructor, where you'll achieve international qualifications as well as grow your leadership, communication and teamworking skills. Discover our gap year ski courses / gap year snowboard courses.
We look forward to speaking with you.