What is a gap semester and how can you make the most of it?
What is a gap semester?
A gap semester is a shortened form of a gap year and would normally cover a 3-4 month period to coincide with a college or university term.
It could be that you are taking an entire year but are looking for a program or activity that will last for just a semester as you have other plans for the rest of the time. Alternatively perhaps you have changed courses and are looking for a way to fill the time before the next semester starts.
Who is it for?
It is usually for young people either recently out of high school or currently in college. Typically it could be any of the following:
- Students who have recently finished high school may want to take a break after high school before starting college or university.
- Undergraduates during college: There are many occasions such as changing your course, illness or a change in family or financial situation which may mean taking a break is the best option at this time.
- Graduates after college: Having spent so many years working hard for your degree, it may feel like a great opportunity to have some time out before starting a paid job where holidays are reduced to perhaps 10 days per year.
How should I spend the time?
What you do during your semester or year away from college will depend hugely on why you decided to take the time out in the first place. Here are some ideas for what you could do during the time out of education (Note: some are structured programs, others are more general suggestions):
- Volunteer program abroad
This is an amazing opportunity to spend some time overseas. Using the time to travel and volunteer somewhere will give you a global perspective and work experience which will be invaluable when you come to the world of work.
There are amazing overseas gap programs you can take part in which can have lifelong benefits (confidence, global experience, cultural knowledge, independence among many others) and ensure you feel you’ve made the most of your time away from formal education.
- Volunteer locally
If financial or other constraints restrict you from travelling further afield, there is a lot to be gained from volunteering locally. You’ll be making a valuable contribution to the community and you’ll be adding significant skills to your CV which you’ll be grateful for down the line.
- Do paid work or an internship
If you have decided to take a break from college as you aren’t sure you have chosen the right course, gaining work experience in different fields or industries is the best way to decide what you want to do with your life.
- Take a break
This is really important! Have you decided to take some time out because you are unwell or unhappy?
The best thing to do is to give yourself time to recover before you step into something else. Read, relax, get fit, maybe take a holiday with friends.
Take the time to get better but do try to make some plans so you have things to look forward to as well.
This may combine with two of the other ideas above – volunteering abroad and taking a break!
There is never not a good reason to travel… It doesn’t have to be overseas (although we would always recommend it!)
Can I take a Gap Semester?
This will depend on your particular situation and why you are looking to take a break and whether it is after high school or during college.
It will definitely be worth talking to your admissions service or college counsellor (if you have already started your course) to find out the options for deferring your course but also ask advice from family or friends.
Hopefully they will be supportive of the idea if you explain why you are considering a gap semester.
Is it right for you?
We have worked with scores of individuals who have taken time out of education and want to make sure they are making the most of their time out so don’t hesitate to call our team to chat.
We can talk through your personal circumstances and find out whether a gap semester could be right for you.
Deciding whether to take one and what to do with the time is a difficult choice – let us help!