A Gap Year is a well-established concept in most Commonwealth countries, but it has only recently been recognized as an important experience to be undertaken by Australian students who are considering tertiary study. In Australia, it is becoming more common for students to defer university by a year. Many work part-time, travel overseas, volunteer in the community, or undertake courses at TAFE (technical and further education) colleges instead of waiting another 12 months before starting their degree course.
How a Gap Year might benefit you?
A gap year can be an important and formative time in a young person’s life. It may help them to mature and gain greater insight into their abilities before embarking on the full-time studies at a university or college. They may also experience different living conditions, make new friends and meet people from many walks of life who share other interests.
Gap years are also important for developing skills that are needed for university study, such as essay writing, doing library research, and working out how to set priorities. Some students even take gap years before starting primary school!
Taking a gap year has many benefits beyond the personal side of things too. Students who undertake a gap year often find it easier to make the transition from school to university because they are more focused and better prepared to begin their chosen course.
Gap years give students a chance to find out about themselves and what they want to do in life. It can help students gain an understanding of their capabilities and interests that cannot be achieved by studying at high school or thinking about future careers — only by experiencing them first-hand.
The time spent during a gap year can help you learn more about yourself and discover talents and abilities which may not have been apparent to you before. It gives students the chance to become involved in work or voluntary activities, travel overseas, and consider other study options such as vocational training or university courses that fit their interests, hobbies, and preferences.
A gap year can also benefit university applicants in other ways. You will have the opportunity to take extra courses to improve your grades if you wish. This can lessen the amount of time needed to complete your degree when you finally enroll at a university or college. It is not uncommon for students who defer their place by a year to complete their degree in two years rather than three.
Reasons why all students don’t choose to take a Gap Year
Taking a gap year will not affect an applicant’s chances of obtaining a university place, but there are some important things you should know before deferring your admission. If you decide to take a year off between high school and university or college, you may have to pay more fees if the institution charges by the year.
More importantly, in most cases, you will lose your university or college course deposit. Make sure you understand the conditions of any offer made to you by your chosen institution before making any decision about deferring.
If you are thinking about taking a gap year, here are some things about deferring university entry that you should consider before making a decision:
Eligibility criteria vary from one institution to another. You may need to maintain a certain GPA or take specific courses throughout high school. Make sure you understand the requirements for your chosen course before making any decisions.
Some courses at universities and colleges do not allow deferred entry. If this is the case, you will need to reapply as a new applicant (and pay the application fee again).
If your offer of admission contains certain conditions, such as full-time enrolment or minimum ATAR requirements, you will need to maintain those standards during your gap year. If you don’t, you may find yourself ineligible for the institution at which you have been offered a place.
If you want to defer your offer of admission, contact the institution as soon as possible as there are often limited places available and they become snapped up quickly. Don’t leave it until the last minute to apply for a deferral, as some courses will only offer deferrals for a short period of time.
Deferring an offer of admission may affect your student loans and other financial support. For example, if you defer by more than six months, you won’t be able to access Youth Allowance (student payments).
If you are offered a place but change your mind about going to university, remember universities and colleges do not guarantee they will refund the application fee if you decide not to take up your offer of admission. Contact the institution directly for more information about its refund policy.
The National Union of Students warns students against deferring their university or college course unless they are fully prepared to take time off between high school and university.
Still, everything you learn, experience, and achieve during your gap year can be put on your resume when you apply for university or college. Some students who have completed a gap year credit it as the most rewarding part of their education. Others say it helped them determine what they wanted to study at university or college.
Gap years are becoming more popular among university applicants but it is important to get advice from academic counselors, teachers, and parents to ensure you make the right choice for your circumstances.