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Gap year advice

Taking a Gap Year During University Can Be Damaging Reveals Essential Travel
With A level results day just around the corner on 15th August, students all over the country will soon be contemplating their future, including thinking about whether to take a gap year.
However, leading online backpacker travel insurance specialist Essential Travel urges students to not only consider whether they will take a gap year, but also when they will take it, as a recent Essential Travel interview has revealed that taking a gap year mid course can be damaging for students. Essential Travel sought advice from Dr Kingsley Sage, lecturer in computer studies at Sussex University, for a Tutor's perspective of how gap years can affect students

Taking a Year Out of University

Putting aside studying abroad as part of a course, gap years in the middle of your degree is a bad idea, says Dr Sage:
"Taking a gap year in your middle years can be quite damaging, actually. For a start it can destroy your perception of University study, and how you feel about it. I believe if you do something you should do it wholeheartedly and a gap year can be incredibly distracting - you'll be thinking and planning for it beforehand, and possibly find it difficult to get back into the routine of study afterwards, or just lose your enthusiasm for it. There are many stories about people getting depressed after a gap year, or just coming back to reality with a crash. If you are just starting University or looking for a job, you at least have something exciting to be thinking about... a new challenge. Whereas, if you are just coming back to something you know already, you might very well find it hard."
A sensible alternative would be to plan a snap gap in your holidays. With 3-4 months of holiday, students can pack a lot into that time.
Watch out for: Returning to find that your friends and fellow students have moved on while you've been away.

A Pre-University Gap Year

Taking a gap year before Higher Education is encouraged by many institutions who believe that a year out in the world before University helps to mature students and give them a little more experience of something other than studying, and during his interview Dr Kingsley Sage  suggests that this is in the fact the best time to take a gap year:
"At 18 you may have something you've been burning to do, some passion you want to nurture, and your gap year will be more about you and what you want. Once you start at University, there will be a lot of peer influence about the cool things to do, such as a certain place to travel, and you may find yourself led astray from what you really want to do."
Watch out for: Some Universities may not allow you to defer a year
Post University Gap Year
After three or four years of studying, taking time out may sound the most obvious thing to do, and you literally have the world to chose from! It can also be a time to cement friendships and travel as a group before going off to different places
Dr Sage suggests that a gap year at this time is a must if you haven't yet done it and know that it's something you want to do: "You certainly need to get it out of your system before you settle down to a job if you know it's something you really want to do. One thing I would bear in mind, though, is that you may miss the graduate recruitment fairs, which for many are the best ways to get a job after graduation, and if you have to wait a whole year for it to come around again, that can be a long time."
Watch out for: Reluctant parents who may have been helping to fund you, and now want to see you "knuckle down" and get some work rather than what they may perceive as go away on a long holiday!
Extra Help
Essential Travel are reducing their Backpacker insurance by 15% until 1st September, 2013, and has also its Career Gap Campaign to help gappers plan their time away. It includes step by step advice from leading money, CV, and gap year experts, as well as real life stories from people have done it - from volunteering to working as a ski rep, to teaching English in Japan.
Essential Travel is one of the UK's leading online travel extra providers, providing priority access to the most sought after car parks, hotels and lounges at all major airports across the UK. Essential Travel is now part of Thomas Cook UK  Ireland. For further information visit; or call 0845 803 5434 free.