Fill in the gap with a gap year experience

AGE 17 is a bit early for perhaps one of the most daunting choices you’ll ever have to make, but it’s fast approaching for me.

So, with more opportunities than ever before, regardless of wealth, nationality and race, what are my options?

A-level students are faced with the big four options.

Three are pretty obvious — university, an apprenticeship or heading straight into the big bad working world.

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Lurking beneath university prospectuses and mountains of leaflets is the other option — a gap year.

In 2012, an estimated 2.5 million people took a gap year, with more than 60 per cent claiming the year out helped focus their mind on the future, and added to their employability.

That sounds great, but what about cost and what if you make the wrong choice?

I can’t afford to waste a year at this stage in my life, could you?

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That’s the beauty of it — gap years can be as broad or as focused as you want.

Unlike university, learning to be independent, earning money and developing some invaluable life skills while experiencing the world is, at the very least, an interesting prospect.

Gap years can act as the dress rehearsal for life itself, before the main event of university

Let’s face it, after two years of solid revision you might as well take a break from the books — you’ve earned it.

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You’ve earned a chance to see the world outside the education system, give yourself a bit of space to breathe and work at being a person.                 

It doesn't hurt your UCAS form either.

Voluntary schemes and jobs can’t help but build that “well rounded individual” universities seem to demand year on year.

Here’s your chance to stand out from the crowd and show an employer that you’ve tasted a bit of hard graft and you didn’t mind it. In fact, you’re coming back for more.

One volunteering scheme offers an abundance of possibilities in more than three continents, working in conservation of land and sea, as well as helping in local villages and schools.

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Hide Ad is an organisation, specialising in improving the world with the help of willing volunteers. Schemes are available in Africa, South America, Asia and the Caribbean, helping to sustain and improve the lives of people and animals all over the world.

It might sound a bit hippyish, a bit “trust-fund rich-kid” even, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagance — it can be a well budgeted experience.

Don’t rule it out — I haven’t.

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