Going through the education system can be incredibly stressful. After having exams, more exams and even more exams after that, you may be feeling a bit tired of school and in serious need of a break. This break can come in many different forms. You may just want to go on a holiday for a week or two or you may want to have a slightly more extended break for a month or longer. To get a long, restful break that you know you deserve, you could even take an entire year. This is known as a gap year.
However, if you need more time before starting university or a more permanent job, you may want to take even longer. Is this possible?
In short, the answer is yes, you can take two gap years. In fact, you can pretty much take a gap year for however long you like. The only thing you need to consider is if it is really a gap year or if you have decided to change your plans altogether. Regardless of how long your gap year lasts, it can typically be taken after sixth form or college, after university or in the middle of a career change.
Continue reading to learn more about gap years. Included in this article is all about when you take them, how long for and even why you should. If you are wondering if you should take a gap year, this article is just for you.
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How many gap years can you take?
When taking a gap year, you may have so much planned. Whether you have travel, work, volunteering or any other experience or opportunity within these plans, you may find that you struggle to fit it all in. Rather than cutting down your plans, you may instead be looking at the possibility to take another gap year.
Simply put, you can pretty much take as many gap years as you want in between different chapters of your life, whether this is education or work.
As the name suggests, a gap year is typically meant to last a year. However, a gap year isn’t actually a set period.
It can be however long you need it to be. Just make sure that you use it wisely. For more information about the length of a gap year, check out this article by Go Overseas.
To make your gap year(s) as long as you want it to be, you will need to make sure that you have enough money to sustain yourself. This is especially true if you are planning to travel for the entire time or are taking on an unpaid position such as an unpaid internship or a volunteering position.
For more about budgeting, you can check out this Think Student article.
Also, you will need to make sure that by taking an extended gap year you are actually doing so. If your plans change and along the way you decide that you want to continue with what you’re doing and not go through with your original plans.
It may be time to consider that you are no longer on a gap year. If this is the case, you may want to look over your original plans to help you decide what you want to do going forward.
When can you take a gap year in the UK?
The most common times for a gap year to be taken is between significant changes in your life. This is particularly in terms of education and work. For example, this could be after finishing sixth form or college or it could be after finishing university or even in the middle of a career change.
For more information about when you can take a gap year, check out this article by My World of Work.
With all of these opportunities to take a gap year, you may be wondering which is the best time.
The only answer for this is whenever it is right for you. You have to consider your future plans; your gap year aims and if taking a year out will help or harm you. For more on whether you should take a gap year, check out the section below.
Can you take a gap year at 16 in the UK?
Taking a gap year at 16 is a slightly trickier process depending on which UK country you live in and what you plan to do on your gap year. This is because the different countries in the UK have slightly different laws on education between the age of 16 and the age of 18.
In England, the school leaving age is 16. However, you have to be in some form of education until the age of 18. This can even be an apprenticeship, or it may be part-time education with full-time work or volunteering.
However, if you plan to leave education entirely, this won’t be possible. This means that in the traditional sense of a gap year being a full break from education or possibly even work, you won’t be able to take one at 16 in England.
In Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, you won’t have this problem. This is because while the school leaving age is still 16, there is no legislation requiring you to stay in education until 18. This means that you will at least technically be able to take a gap year when you finish Year 11, Year 12 (Northern Ireland) or S4.
Just bear in mind that many gap year programmes will require you to be 18 (or at least 17), so doing these won’t be possible at 16. Due to this, it may be a better idea to wait until your 18 to make it a more worthwhile experience. However, the choice is yours.
For more information about the school leaving age in the UK, check out this governmental guide.
Should you take a gap year?
While it is a break from your normal routine, whether that be education or work, taking a gap year is much more than just a break. A gap year can give you the chance to develop and improve your career prospects in ways that you would never be able to without one. For more about this, check out this guide by the National Careers Service.
How you develop yourself and upgrade your skills on your gap year will be entirely up to how you choose to spend it.
If you choose to go travelling, you are more likely to be able to develop your confidence and learn how to be more independent. This can also be true if you decide to get a full-time job. However, you are also likely to pick up more job-related transferable skills from a workplace environment.
On the downside, a gap year is arguably too flexible. Without having the rigid structure that you would likely have had at all other previous stages of your life, particularly in education, you may find it more difficult to get back into the zone when your gap year finishes.
Plus, a gap year can only improve your career prospects if you are being productive and using your time wisely. If this is not evident on your application, employers may just see this as a gap, and it could look bad on you.
Simply put, you should take a gap year if it feels right to you. Just make sure that you use the time you have in your gap year wisely so that it can benefit you and your future opportunities.
Should you take two gap years?
While it can feel like a great idea, taking two gap years can make it more difficult for you to go back to what you’re taking a break from. If you’re planning to go to university, do a college course or even start a job or apprenticeship, taking two gap years will end up delaying these plans.
This can make it harder to even get a position at the education provider you want to go to or harder to get your perfect job or apprenticeship. This is due to an increased competition as there will be more people looking for jobs and choosing to get to university or college as the years go on.
However, it is also due to your own motivation. This is because after you finish sixth form or college, you would have still been used to the school routine of having to get up at a specific time and do everything you need to do.
Another thing you will need to consider is whether you can financially sustain yourself through this second gap year. If not, then you might as well just spend a little extra to make your one gap year a little more special.
For more things that you need to consider for a gap year or two, check out this guide by Unifrog.
However, if you have a clear structure and plan for why you want this extra gap year then it can be a great idea.
For example, if you decided to start your own business in your gap year and you wanted to take an extra year to get it off the ground before starting anything new. Instead, you may have found that you want to travel and won’t get a chance to fit all of the places you want to go into one year.
Whatever your reasoning is for taking more than one gap year, it is important that you understand what it is. If you still feel that it is right for you then go for it.