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Africa & Asia Venture (AV)- Exam results and the unexpected gap year

Date added: Friday 26th August 2016

While summer feels like it should be the time to relax, forget about studies and enjoy time with friends, that isn’t the reality for students who have spent the past few weeks nervously awaiting their exam results. Whether you’ve sat English A Levels, International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers or SATs in the past few months, you’ve no doubt been told over and over again that your efforts and the results will determine your future. Which is true to a point.

But what happens if you get great exam results but worry that you have picked the wrong course at University so want to step on the brakes? What happens if you didn’t get the grades you needed to secure your place at College?

Maybe you would rather gain some real life or work experience to help you stand out later in the employment market. Or what if you simply don’t feel emotionally ready to move to the next stage in your education?

For many young people, taking a year out from studies is a great way to immerse themselves in something completely different, enabling them to grow as an individual. A gap year is an opportunity for young people to gain transferable skills that employers seek / are attracted by, expand their cultural knowledge and increase their social awareness as global citizens before heading into the next phase of their education.

Immersing yourself in another culture is where real opportunities for learning and building relationships can lie. If you want confidence and people skills, don’t just work at a minimum wage job. Learn to communicate and connect with people whose upbringing is radically different to your own. Learn to empathize with different types of people and what makes them think and behave the way they do.

“Having come from a rather sheltered up bringing in leafy rural England, the closest I had come to engaging with other cultures was through the television screen. Spending 4 months in rural Kenya was a giant leap into the dark but proved to be a hugely rewarding experience and taught me lessons which remain with me to this day.” Kenya AV Volunteer.

Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrolment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way—provided they do not enrol in a degree-granting program at another college. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College.

“In the year after I joined a professional services firm there were over 30,000 applicants for only around 1,500 jobs; that is 20 people applying for a single place. The current job market is so competitive that any chance to differentiate you must be seized with both hands. Being able to recall on experiences to demonstrate key competencies recruiters are looking for, such as “teamwork” or “learning from experience”, is vital. AV gave me these experiences in abundance.” Malawi AV Volunteer.

A structured and meaningful Gap Year can make you stand out from the crowd:

“Now I am home I feel that in the next step of job interviews, when everyone else will churn out the same old speech about school, university, work experience when asked questions on skills they’ve built over the years and how a doctor needs to have confidence, leadership skills, decision making, time management etc, I will stand out from the crowd. For an employer or interviewer seeing someone that could be so passionate for something and embrace such a new and different experience would be one of the greatest skills and assets you can offer.” Uganda AV Volunteer.

Life is a journey with many different paths to choose from along the way and it’s ok to change your mind through choice or through necessity!

According to Andrew Mackenzie, the director of Africa & Asia Venture (AV), “the best people we have had come with us are the ones that have earned the money to do it. They have spent six months working in their home country, in the process learning the value of work, money and budgeting. And they are also more determined to make the most of the time abroad because they have worked extremely hard to get there.”

Oh and remember that taking time out doesn’t need to be a full, 12 month Gap Year. It can last anything from 5 weeks to 12 months, depending on your budget and your availability. This means you still have time to reapply to college, to gain commercial work experience and to save money for the next step in your life journey.

We hope that all students get the exam results that they hoped for but if not, it’s definitely not the end of the world. If you’d like to talk to us about options to volunteer overseas and immerse yourself in a different culture, the AV team would love to hear from you!

5 week Summer Programmes

12-16 week Gap Year Programmes