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Gap years are commonplace these days as people choose to defer their university entrance for a number of reasons. Whatever the cause of your gap year, be it self-imposed or a necessity, here we offer some tips on how to make it as useful as possible for your university application and future job prospects.

Be productive

Sounds pretty basic, but it’s important. Precisely what you do is less important than that you do something. As tempting as it may be to kick back and take a year-long holiday, now is not the time for inactivity. In fact, it’s a fantastic opportunity to do all sorts of exciting things to boost your confidence, have fun and improve your CV!


Travelling can be a hugely enjoyable and exciting way to broaden your horizons, meet new people and see new and exciting places. However, simply travelling for a whole year is not really adding anything to your CV and won’t impress admissions tutors. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any backpacking at all! In fact a month or two will be a load of fun, give you a well-earned break and set you up brilliantly for work or study. If you must go abroad for the whole year, find a way to be productive with your time. There are various types of programs overseas for young people that can give you experience in a range of disciplines. Read on to find out more!

Volunteer/ Work in your field

Volunteering will give you some excellent skills and great things to talk about in personal statements and interviews! Wherever possible, try to volunteer within your chosen field. English students may want to look at newspapers or publishing houses and Law applicants can contact law firms for shadowing work. Some specific suggestions below!


This website has some great opportunities for volunteering in Law and Human Rights projects abroad and here you can apply for a legal internship in Africa. Also, try contacting law firms to see if you can shadow someone for a week, or attend some public trials to witness to law in action.


Those of you preparing to study science may want to look into an industrial placement to get some real hands-on experience working in labs or field-sites.

Arts and Humanities

Arts and Humanities students have a huge range of volunteer placements and internships from which to choose. This website lists some great opportunities to volunteer in museums, or have a look at conservation gap years abroad.


Any time abroad in a country which speaks the language you will be studying will be beneficial. Getting your TEFL and teaching English abroad for instance, can be a fantastic way to get to know a new culture and experience a new language. However, you don’t have to go abroad; think about tutoring in your language or working in a language school based in the UK.

For a list of some fantastic opportunities have a look at the Gap Year Directory which regularly lists great opportunities both at home and abroad. Get in touch at 0207 499 2394 if you have any questions!


As well as working and volunteering you can take the opportunity to get ahead on your degree by taking some courses at the local college or community centre. You can also use your time to pick up a new skill. There are short courses available for all sorts of things from languages, engineering, gardening, painting and music.

Again, if you’re keen to travel there are several study abroad programs available. Have a look here for some tips on where to start.

Save up some money

Volunteering and studying are all very well but these can be expensive pursuits. If the suggestions so far are not within your budget, you can use your gap year to earn some money and build up your savings in preparation for student life. Sticking with any job for a year, even a fast food restaurant, shows commitment and will give you invaluable life skills, making you more attractive to future employers.

Some great places to job hunt are:

Apply to university

If you are taking the year to re-apply to Oxbridge then use your time wisely! As well as building up your skills and experience, devote some energy to your UCAS application, Admissions Test Preparation and Interview Preparation. You can book in for a Private Consultation for some expert tips on how best to use your gap year in your preparation for university. Call on 0207 499 2394 to make a booking or with any questions!

A gap year can be a useful and rewarding experience if it is well planned, helping your personal development and expanding the skills you will need in your future career. Have a great year!

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Our Oxbridge-graduate consultants are available between 9.00 am – 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday, with additional evening availability when requested.

Oxbridge Applications, 58 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

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