When it comes to taking a gap year you have two options – to take it before you begin university, or to take it during your time at university. Luckily, whichever option you choose will look good on paper.
Universities like to see that their students have life experience outside of their academic career and a gap year is the perfect chance to pick up new skills, take part in different activities, and see a little bit more of life.
Gap years prove to universities that you’re ready for a new adventure and like to take on a challenge. These are positive personal attributes for potential university students and can make you stand out from the crowd.
However, there are some definite dos and don’ts when talking about your gap year in your personal statement. The admissions tutors will want to hear either about what you did during your gap year, or what you intend to do if you haven’t already taken it.
You don’t have to focus your personal statement on your gap year but a few sentences or a short paragraph near the end of your application outlining your plans will show the reader that you’ve thought about what you’ll be doing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be spending the time working to gain relevant experience in your subject or whether you’re travelling, as long as you show the admissions tutor that you have a plan and know what you will gain from taking the time out of education.
What you do on your gap year is completely up to you but most universities would warn you off wasting your time. Lying on a beach for an entire year might sound like a great reward for all your hard work at school, but you won’t gain anything from it.
It’s important to have a break but taking the time to volunteer for a community project, learn a new skill or language, and gaining valuable vocational experience will get you ahead of the game when the time comes to apply for/or return to university.