As the weeks go on during the Coronavirus pandemic, it seems more and more likely that universities across the UK will begin courses online come September. Both Cambridge University and the University of Manchester have already announced that their lectures will be online when the 2020/21 academic year begins. While some of you will seamlessly adjust to
, others won’t be so enticed. online learning
As a result, you may be pondering gap year ideas. The option of taking a year long break away from studies, gaining valuable work and life experience, while putting off your studies to help ensure teaching is back to normal, is well worth consideration. Gap years can be a smart decision prior to kicking off your
journey, however it’s worth doing your research before making the call. The impact of the pandemic has meant that for the meantime, your options for gap year programs will have changed. university
How Has Coronavirus Affected Doing a Gap Year?
A popular choice for a tends to be travelling abroad. This may include work or a volunteer abroad program in that country. However, due to current circumstances, this may not be the most feasible option. With Coronavirus restricting all international travel for the past three months, some travel restrictions are likely to extend for the months ahead, which will affect the possibility of spending a year abroad to explore the world. Be sure to keep yourself updated by checking the gap year for government advice. Foreign and Commonwealth Office website
If travel restrictions ease come the end of the year, you may still have the chance to spend part of your gap year abroad. It’s not uncommon for those taking a gap year to spend the first six months working and then for the remaining six, travel. According to Cathryn Fortuna, the editorial strategist at
who help students to find their ideal gap year program abroad for free, “it’s too early to make a call regarding gap year travel for 2021, but at this time it seems like travel in 2020 will be a challenge, depending on where gap travellers want to go.” GoAbroad
Cathryn further reinforced that students must remind themselves how early in the year it still is. If the outbreak can continue to be controlled in particular gap year destinations, eventually countries may “begin to tentatively open their borders.” If the ability to travel around the UK is less restricted than further abroad, it could be worth considering spending some of your gap year in another country within the UK.
For travel, keep up-to-date with the latest travel news, while constantly checking the government’s advice. If you have any companies abroad with which you were planning to work, reach out to get further information from their end too. In the meantime, check out GoAbroad who have been facilitating internships and
to keep gap year students occupied. online abroad courses
Although it likely won’t be paid work, right now would be an ideal scenario to consider your services. Taking a year off can be an opportunity to give back, and that is the case now more so than ever. You don't need to go overseas to make a difference. Explore what volunteering opportunities exist within your local community, whether it be with the volunteering , helping the homeless impacted by Coronavirus through NHS trusts and volunteer centres and Crisis , or simply reach out to those in your local neighbourhood who may need help with delivering groceries. Mental health organisations such as the Centrepoint or Mental Health Foundation offer a number of volunteering opportunities in the mental health sector, whilst also supplying a Mind for young people as to how to best navigate this tricky period. There are also many charities, organisations and people around you that would relish all of the help they can get right now due to the pandemic’s impact. Those helping with Coronavirus relief efforts would gladly take on your services. guide
Internships and Work Experience
One of the most valuable ways you can spend your gap year is by working in an , or getting work experience. However, the availability of opportunities may now be limited. The effects that Coronavirus has had on this will depend on the industry and company to which you apply. So it would pay to start your research now. internship
Don’t be discouraged to send out your CV and reach out to the relevant people in the industry you’d like to gain experience in. You may find that now more than ever, they need a few extra hands-on-deck. Even if they are not directly advertising any openings, the initiative you show to reach out may open up a door you didn’t know existed. As Ethan, a University of Lincoln student
his final year told us, he is using the next year to, “Gain more experience for work after I have finished university”. Showing initiative and expressing your ambition to work in the current climate will really impress employers. deferring
What Other Gap Year Ideas Are There?
If you still have the hunger to learn, but wish to do so at your own pace, why not consider taking some free online courses? There are a wealth of courses to choose from that could range from anywhere between 1-3 months, or beyond. , who are at the forfront of online teaching, are encouraging students to take online courses while travel bans are still in place, in order to stay on top of academic learning and university preparation. The upside of taking such courses is that you not only get to take the course at your own pace, but by the end, you can come away with a certification which will look impressive on your CV. Although this learning will be completely online, it is a feasible means of keeping yourself motivated to learn, whilst still being able to look forward to the university experience come 2021. FutureLearn
Take Some Time Off
If you need some time to reset and reassess what direction your life is heading in, why not take some time to yourself. Learn a new language or two, pick up that instrument you’ve been neglecting for so many years, strengthen those bonds with your family or maybe even help your parents around the home. Whatever it may be, spend some time making yourself happy. It doesn’t have to be for the full gap year either. Maybe spend the first few months focussing on the hobbies that give you the most pleasure, and the most joy. You’ve never had a better excuse for a bit of ‘me time’.
Should I Take A Gap Year?
As with any life decision, there will be pros and cons. Taking a gap year can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself, what you’re interested in and allow you to personally grow. It’s ok to finish school not knowing what you want to study or where. But taking a gap year is a decision only you yourself can make. Doing so has become a very realistic option due to the Coronavirus pandemic, yet being able to take a gap year program abroad or get work experience has become far more limited. But before you make any decision, do as much research as you can. Discuss the options you have with family and friends, weigh up the pros and cons, and be firm with whichever decision you make. Don’t be afraid to reach out to universities, employers and Whatuni to get as much information as possible in regard to what you can do.
In the meantime stay safe, look after yourself and look out for each other.
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