Volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand

2020 is a year that will live long in the memory. It’s been a year of uncertainty in all walks of life as the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill. While employees suffered redundancies and furlough, the next generation of workers found their education put on hold.

Schools and colleges closed in mid-March before the UK Government announced that exams would also be cancelled, leaving students to rely on predicted grades from tutors. As they now enter the final furlong, with results day looming, the questions remain for what the next academic year holds.

While most colleges and universities are expecting to return in September, the uncertainty that shrouds how lessons will be fulfilled has led many prospective students to reconsider their options. Many are questioning the full payment of tuition fees at a time when standard face-to-face teaching is at a minimum, with the deferral to the 2021/22 academic year proving popular.

While gap years often give students the chance to delay a decision on which course they are best suited to, or even the bigger decision of nailing down a career they want to follow, this year could see students take the gap year. The only thing left to ask is, ‘What do I do with my gap year?’. Here, we take a look at the options.

Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand

While a footloose and fancy-free travelling gap year might be off the table for the foreseeable future, with many countries primed for secondary lockdowns as winter approaches, volunteering could give you the chance to gain some worthwhile life lessons. Working with animals can bring many pleasures, so why not check out your options to volunteer?

Many organisations will provide accommodation in exotic locations in exchange for your volunteering services, so before you know it, you could be lapping up the attention of Thai elephants, the nation’s most treasured animal. Make sure to do your research though, as some organisations have been criticised in the past for harmful and unethical tourist practices.

Become a ski instructor in Austria

Make the hills come alive with the sound of music by signing up on a gap year ski instructor course in Austria this winter. The summer ski season was all but wiped out by the Covid-19 restrictions but with the slopes reopening, you could be whizzing down the best black runs in the Alps before you know it.

The option means you’ll not only have time to consider your educational options, but you’ll learn about leadership, teamwork, and make some memories.

Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

If you’re considering teaching as a career option, you could gain worthwhile insight into your future by signing up to a TEFL certification course. The standard course takes just 120 hours to complete and within weeks you could be jetting off to South Africa, Southeast Asia, or South America. With generally cheaper living costs and accommodation often being provided, it will not only provide a cost-effective way to see some of the world but allow you to explore teaching as a career option.

Get your rave on as a holiday rep in Ibiza

If you fancy a year of partying and making money before diving onto the next step on the career ladder, then consider holiday repping opportunities in Ibiza. Sun, sea, and cocktails sound like the ultimate way to spend a gap year, and you’ll be putting away some much-needed money. The life skills gained by being a counsellor, police officer, and confidant with revellers will live with you long into future employment.

Take on a gap year placement

Do you know the career you want to follow, but are unsure if university is right for you this year? If so, explore the opportunity to carry out a gap year placement. Thousands of students leave university and start their job hunt only to be hit with the automatic ‘But you have no work experience’ line.

Bypass the standard response by gaining the upper hand on your peers by diving into your industry now. It may be daunting to take on an internship when you haven’t completed your studies, but it’ll give you an idea of whether your chosen career is one you are suited to. Plus, it could be the difference between a rejection email and a job offer.   

However you decide to spend your gap year, make sure to research all the options properly. Partying in Ibiza may sound like a great way to unwind after the stresses of your A-Levels but keep one eye on your career ambitions and invest some time into preparing for university life, especially if you have only deferred for 12 months.

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