A gap year (taking a year out/ a year off/ ...) between school or college and higher education or a job can be a very exciting, challenging and valuable opportunity. You can be a volonteer abroad, do some work experience to build up your skills, discover new cultures...
Taking a gap year out can look good on a CV. Some employers may appreciate that you have spent some time overseas (to improve a language, your education, learn new skills, share your knowledge...)
Which gap year type are you ?
This article from the Independent tries to give an answer , poiting out four different profiles : the volunteer, the hippy, the sportsman, the careerist : http://www.independent.co.uk/student/gap-year/which-gap-year-type-are-you-890694.html
Several organisations help young adults to plan their gap years
YOP - Yea Out Group gather together 35 organisation offering a choice of location and activity overseas
VSO : http://www.vso.org.uk/
Gap-Year.com : http://www.gap-year.com
Platform 2 is for young adults between 18 and 25, who have (or are eligible to have) a UK passport and are resident in the UK and who would like to be volonteers to visit a developping country and get involved with global issues of justice and poverty. Interested people will have a training day before their trip overseas ( 10 weeks in India, Nepal, Ghana, South Africa or Peru) http://www.myplatform2.com/
Gap year dangers:
- Top travel tips http://www.carolinesrainbowfoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=48
Read these different points of view...
- Claudia's experience with platform2 (dec 2009) : http://www.myplatform2.com/the-wave
- Timesonline : How to stay safe on a gap year http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/holiday_type/gap_travel/article6537978.ece
- The Guardian : Student gap year studies (2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/aug/22/student-gap-year-case-studies
- The Independent's article about platform2 (Jan 22nd 2009) : http://www.independent.co.uk/student/gap-year/a-unique-platform-1513136.html
- Tom Griffiths, founder of Gapyear.com (The Independent, Aug 11th 2008): http://www.independent.co.uk/student/gap-year/gap-year-how-to-make-yourself-stand-out-890656.html
- Reuters : Are gap-year do-gooders wasting their time? (Aug 2007) http://www.alertnet.org/db/blogs/40453/2007/07/15-170930-1.htm
- The Guardian : Gap year danger fears (2004) : http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2004/sep/05/travelnews.gapyears.students