Gap year: good or bad idea?

Who hasn't dreamt of having some time off to explore the world, perfect or learn another language, refine their study choices or take part in a humanitarian trip?

At some point, we’d all like to discover the world before embarking on university studies or a professional path. But if you want this time away to be beneficial to your future, it’s important that you plan it properly.

Why take a gap year?

Whether it’s a trip, a language course or a work placement, a gap year is a unique opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and develop personally. Whatever the project, it will enable you to get to know yourself better, identify your strengths, hone your interests and, above all, open up to the world. Learning, meeting new people and overcoming obstacles all help us to grow and better plan for the future.

How do you prepare for your gap year?

Here are a few tips and steps to follow, to prepare for your gap year in the best possible way:

  • Clarify your objectives: determine what you want to achieve during this time. Whether it’s to gain work experience, travel, explore new interests, or simply take a step back, having clear objectives will help you structure your year.
  • Explore your options: find out about the different options available to you during your gap year. We’ll look at the different options in more detail in the next section.
  • Financial planning: draw up a realistic budget to cover your expenses during this year. Consider the costs of travel, accommodation and food, as well as the activities you wish to undertake.
  • Prepare yourself academically: if you plan to start or resume your studies after this gap year, make sure you meet the academic deadlines and requirements to facilitate your return.
  • Plan your return: anticipate the end of your gap year and think about how you are going to reintegrate into your academic or professional life. Having a plan for your return can help you avoid periods of uncertainty and stress.
  • Stay open to opportunities: bear in mind that plans can change and be open to unforeseen opportunities that may arise during your year. Remain flexible and ready to adjust your plan according to circumstances.

What to do during a gap year?

The gap year is not a time for lazing around or partying, no. It’s a period that can be put to good use in many ways:

  • Language courses: going abroad on a study holiday helps a student perfect their knowledge of a language and / or take a certificate. In fact, students sometimes need to have a certain language level to be admitted to university courses abroad. It is also possible to learn several languages in combination! Depending on the student’s level and goals, it will be necessary to validate the number of weeks of lessons needed to undertake their project. Some destinations also offer the opportunity to combine language courses followed by an internship in a company (work and study).
  • Travel: discovering the world is one of the most common reasons for taking a gap year. During your school years, travelling is very complicated and after graduation comes work and time will be even more scarce – not to mention the children… So it’s best to do it just before starting your higher education studies.
  • Foundation year: a foundation year is a year of preparatory study (year 0) for students to acquire the basics in a chosen field. It is also a way to explore several different subjects when a student is still unsure about two career paths. In addition to the academic classes, the student is given English lessons and study skills to help them at university. For students interested in artistic career paths, the foundation year is often a prerequisite for developing the portfolio required for a bachelor’s degree.
  • Humanitarian project: undertaking a mission of general interest in a non-profit organisation. The humanitarian project combines very well with the language course.
  • Finding yourself: it’s not uncommon, after leaving school, to be uncertain of which course to take or what your various prospects are. Taking a gap year in these cases allows us to study all the options open to us so that we can choose the one that suits us best. It is also advisable to have a career guidance assessment in this case.

The benefits of a gap year

Although this is a rather unique experience that differs from one individual to another, it does have certain advantages that can be useful in building your personal and professional future. Self-exploration, improved academic results, open-mindedness, greater autonomy… Let’s explore the benefits that this year, so coveted by students, can bring:

  • Gaining practical experience: during this period, you can gain valuable work experience through placements, voluntary work or even travel. This experience can enhance your CV and make it easier to enter the job market in the future.
  • Improve your language and intercultural skills: going away to learn a language and live in a different cultural environment will help you develop a deeper understanding of other cultures and broaden your horizons.
  • Add value to your training: a gap year experience added to your CV, whatever it may be, demonstrates your adaptability, open-mindedness and ability to manage personal projects. These are all assets that will stand out in front of future recruiters.
  • Personal development: taking a break from your academic career can allow you to focus on personal development, learning new skills, or even taking a step back to reflect on your values and goals.
  • Preparation for studies: a gap year can also serve as preparation for higher studies or academic competitions, providing relevant experience and building maturity and self-confidence.
  • Balance and well-being: taking time for yourself can help to improve your life balance, reduce stress and promote mental and emotional well-being.

One year: your year

A gap year is an important period in a student’s life. It offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. Whether it’s to explore the world, fulfil a dream or gain experience, it can be an asset in your academic and professional career. Ultimately, a gap year is a very personal choice. It’s a year for you to discover who you are and what you want to do. Whatever you choose, remember that the important thing is to learn and grow during this period. Every year EDUCOM helps many students make their choices and organise their gap year. Don’t hesitate to seek our advice and benefit from our expertise so that you can make the most of this unique time.