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The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

Date added: Friday 14th March 2014

Gap years are fantastic. They are allow you to learn new skills, do something worthwhile, and have amazing experiences that you will remember forever. But many people don't consider taking one because they see it as wasted time. We think that's a huge shame, as our twenty-five years of experience at Frontier have shown us that gap years are never, ever that.


Frontier volunteers tracking game in AfricaYou might be thinking that you would rather go straight to university, which is fine, but consider how hard you've been working at school since you were five. That's a long time. It then follows that it might be quite beneficial to have a rest to give you time to get some life experience under your belt (or rucksack, as it were)! The idea being that you will return to university or work refreshed.


Comparing those who did and didn't take gap years is very interesting. Often, those who didn't take a year out say that they found University harder. Richard Oliver, Chairman and Chief Executive of Year Out Group, agrees saying that "Students who take a year out before university arrive refreshed, focused and, if they have made full use of their time out, they will be better able to make the transition from dependence to independence."


It can also provide really good time to think if you're not certain of what you want to do with your life. A gap year experience can offer you a completely new perspective on the world Wouldn't you rather decide what you're going to do next based on what you actually want to do, as opposed to making a decision because it is time to? Being exposed to new sights, cultures and customs might inspire you with new career ideas that you are passionate about.


Also, wouldn't it be cool to do something worthwhile whilst you're having this rest? You can come away from a project, say, in Fiji doing marine conservation, or care work in a primary school in Madagascar, not only having had fun and feeling refreshed, but also proud of the fact that you helped people.


Sarah Ireland, a volunteer recently returned from Ethiopia, said the following: "I do think I made a small difference. Some of my female students were inspired by my story and they now have new ambitions in life to do more to help themselves and their community and that was one of the most rewarding things. To see some very shy young women gain confidence to go their own way in life."


Frontier volunteers on a marine conservation project prepare to dive Another huge benefit is the qualifications you can gain that look really good on your CV, or when applying to university. From scuba PADI qualifications, to Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or simply just the obvious skills you will be able to list such as fund-raising, working in teams, problem solving under pressure, and understanding of other cultures. It puts you ahead in the highly competitive graduate jobs market.


These are just some of the benefits that we think prove that gap years are time well spent, not wasted. And they're bloody good fun too.


Author Sophie Aggett is an Online Journalism at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO. Frontier has over 300 dedicated conservation and community development projects as well as plenty of inspiring gap year ideas to help make your time out meaningful. For more information on all the opportunities available please visit

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