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Sam Cox, MD of RealGap Experience examines the trend in students opting for more work related experience travel
Applications for university are up as students try to avoid the tuition fee rise that will see some courses cost nearly £30,000 from 2012, and because thousands missed out on places last year. With early signs indicating that scores of sixth-formers are considering opting out of the UK system completely and applying for places in universities abroad, now that the UCAS application deadline has passed, what other options do students have if they don’t get their place at university?
In the current climate it has become apparent that universities and employers are looking for a strong record of qualifications as well as seeing what students have achieved outside of the academic world. This is a great time to seize the opportunity to gain a life enhancing experience either for two weeks at Easter or during the summer holidays, or alternatively taking a full year to explore the world.
The gap year isn’t always about travelling abroad for a whole year, which only a percentage of students do enjoy, but could also be the opportunity for a new learning experience over a shorter period of time overseas. These experiences can put a student light years ahead of their competition as it gives them the opportunity to start a career path. This will give students the opportunity to test the waters, and to find out more about themselves, other communities, learn a new skill and offers the platform to become a well-rounded individual. Choosing a gap year gives a young individual a head start in networking, and shows future employers and universities how serious they are about learning, a student can even choose paid work to travel to fund the trip – they earn why they learn
Real Gap Experience offers vocational work experience around the world. We offer a plethora of opportunities including working with children, teaching children to training to become a videographer or even become a qualified dive instructor. We also offer paid work experience overseas which enables students to extend and fund the remained of a trip so that they do not have to worry about saving up all the money in advance. This is very popular in Australia. This is also an opportunity for students to test the waters and see if the type of work they try really is what they want to do in the long run.
We have examples of students who have changed their career path after gaining work experience. There are many vocational careers including nursing and social work where if you can demonstrate that you’ve spent time really working with communities you’ll have a distinct advantage. This may help a student get on to a degree course in the first instance, but it will also make a student stand out from the crowds at the end of their degree when they are applying for work.
Will the traditional Gap Year become extinct? Not at all – the number of gap breaks we organise is increasing year on year and judging by the inquiries and bookings we’ve been receiving this year it certainly doesn’t seem to be viewed that way by young people, or their parents.
We are seeing more travelling for shorter stints rather than the traditional year and overall more are looking for paid work or the opportunity to learn a new skill. It is true that what they’re looking for is changing: Whilst we have many people that are looking to travel for a year or more, we’re also seeing a growing number that are choosing to travel for three or six months and incorporating a gap break into their year between school and university.
The whole work and university admissions arena is more competitive and we have grown with this and now offer trips that offer many transferable skills which can be picked up whilst travelling – for use at university and in their chosen career:
Think on your feet and for yourself
Ability to organise yourself
Ability to communicate with people from all different walks of life