The Student Room Group

What did you do in your gap year?

Hey guys, I will be taking a gap year after I'm done with A levels this June and I don't know how NOT to waste this whole year. I have some stuff planned but will run out of them after the first few months. Can you all share your experience with gap years and how to make my gap year more productive, meaningful and fun?
Original post by NazifaNawer
Hey guys, I will be taking a gap year after I'm done with A levels this June and I don't know how NOT to waste this whole year. I have some stuff planned but will run out of them after the first few months. Can you all share your experience with gap years and how to make my gap year more productive, meaningful and fun?

What I did:

Worked mostly and tried to apply for internships

Tried to set up a side business


What I wished that I also did on top (some of the following):

Go and work/volunteer in the sector that you want to later get a job in after your degree

Get a qualification that would help with getting higher paying work beyond minimum wage (irrespective of whether it's related to your chosen career or not) or helps you further supplement your ability to get the job you want after your degree

Do extra A Levels

Write (book, play, novel, whatever)

Vlog your experiences - travel maybe?

Travel abroad (allowing for Covid restrictions)

Start a side business - check to see if your university would allow you to continue running your business during uni

Learn a language - particularly consider language immersion courses where you travel as well as learn

Travel abroad to volunteer (consider saving up £2k to do this)

Work abroad e.g. hospitality, construction, translation, etc.

See relatives and extended families

Anything on your bucket list

Go on an experience day

Pick up new skills - especially if it brings in a lot of income and is in high demand for the next 5-10 years

Paint/anything arty (especially if you need a portfolio of some sort)

Compose music

Go on a day experience - see Virgin, Red Letter Days, etc.

Take etiquette lessons - it's rare to see someone do this

Design a game, website, app, whatever IT related (especially if you need a portfolio of some sort)

Create a course

Learn to dance (in whatever style you want)

Eat particular types of foods (or a food bucket list) from all parts of the world

Learn to cook

Learn to sell and market

Learn how to get a job

Read certain books in literature and nonfiction that are highly prized/considered classics

Watch movies that are acclaimed and are in the top 100

Try to help turn a homeless person's life around (through a charity - it can be dangerous)

Volunteer at a theatre

Work on a cruiseliner (won't be able to leave the ship for X months, but you get quite a bit of money - don't waste it all)

Volunteer at the university that you want to study at as a research assistant

Become a life coach

Make a low budget film

Learn a sport

Learn public speaking

Learn data science/analysis

Learn to play an instrument - not necessarily master it; that will take years

Become the fittest that you ever been (not thinnest) - at least clean up your diet

Grow your own food - e.g. allotment if you don't have the space in your garden

Build a shed

Assemble a computer

Tutor people

Do X for charity e.g. marathon, cycle, walk, whatever

Make your own wine/cheese

Learn to manage your finances and investments

Confront any fears or mental issues that you might have

Learn to drive if you haven't already

Learn how to program and then work on a few IT projects

Qualifications that you can look into getting:

Personal trainer qualifications

Sports coaching - I had friends who have certificates for football, basketball, etc. You will need to be at least level 2 in order to coach in a sport

Professional IT certificates

Start your professional accounting qualification (depending on the accounting body, you might get a standalone qualification after completing X number of papers) e.g. ACCA, CIMA, ACA; consider AAT Level 3 if you are not going to do an accounting degree or want a full on accounting qualification yet

SCAE, tea sommelier, cheese connoiseur, wine sommelier, beer sommelier/cicerone, sake sommelier, whiskey amabasador, mixology - anything else related to drinking and food

Chef qualification from a brand name institution e.g. Cordon Bleu

CILEx for law at Level 3

Marketing e.g. IDM, CIM, IPA at Level 3

CIPD Level 3 for HR

Licenses - fancy driving a motorcycle, lorry, forklift, bus?

Finance related qualifications e.g. Anything by CII, CISI, LIBF, CeMap up to but not including level 4

Bartending certificates - some bartending schools will allow you to work with them upon completing their course e.g. European Bartending School (which also has bars across the world)

Something related to health and wellbeing e.g. reflexology

Anything in construction and trades at your local adult college (you should be able to start at Level 3)

Language Certificates - recognised by the country they originate from e.g. DALF or Frantastique if you have already done A Level French

Counselling Level 3

Life coaching qualifications

Teaching English as a Foreign Language recommend CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL

Do note for any qualification Level 3 or under recognised under the NVQ framework you would need to likely fund for yourself, unless you decide to take out and Advanced Learner's Loan

If you want to work on skills that would help with your studies at university, consider:

Touch typing

Speed reading

Becoming proficient in Microsoft Office

Learning how to write academically


As you are only free for a year, you would only be able to manage a handful of things, so you should choose carefully.

What would be ideal is if you tried getting a job that isn't based in retail, hospitality, care homes, or supermarkets. Ideally, you want something that's more closely aligned with what you want to do in the future.
Reply 2
Original post by MindMax2000
What I did:

Worked mostly and tried to apply for internships

Tried to set up a side business


What I wished that I also did on top (some of the following):

Go and work/volunteer in the sector that you want to later get a job in after your degree

Get a qualification that would help with getting higher paying work beyond minimum wage (irrespective of whether it's related to your chosen career or not) or helps you further supplement your ability to get the job you want after your degree

Do extra A Levels

Write (book, play, novel, whatever)

Vlog your experiences - travel maybe?

Travel abroad (allowing for Covid restrictions)

Start a side business - check to see if your university would allow you to continue running your business during uni

Learn a language - particularly consider language immersion courses where you travel as well as learn

Travel abroad to volunteer (consider saving up £2k to do this)

Work abroad e.g. hospitality, construction, translation, etc.

See relatives and extended families

Anything on your bucket list

Go on an experience day

Pick up new skills - especially if it brings in a lot of income and is in high demand for the next 5-10 years

Paint/anything arty (especially if you need a portfolio of some sort)

Compose music

Go on a day experience - see Virgin, Red Letter Days, etc.

Take etiquette lessons - it's rare to see someone do this

Design a game, website, app, whatever IT related (especially if you need a portfolio of some sort)

Create a course

Learn to dance (in whatever style you want)

Eat particular types of foods (or a food bucket list) from all parts of the world

Learn to cook

Learn to sell and market

Learn how to get a job

Read certain books in literature and nonfiction that are highly prized/considered classics

Watch movies that are acclaimed and are in the top 100

Try to help turn a homeless person's life around (through a charity - it can be dangerous)

Volunteer at a theatre

Work on a cruiseliner (won't be able to leave the ship for X months, but you get quite a bit of money - don't waste it all)

Volunteer at the university that you want to study at as a research assistant

Become a life coach

Make a low budget film

Learn a sport

Learn public speaking

Learn data science/analysis

Learn to play an instrument - not necessarily master it; that will take years

Become the fittest that you ever been (not thinnest) - at least clean up your diet

Grow your own food - e.g. allotment if you don't have the space in your garden

Build a shed

Assemble a computer

Tutor people

Do X for charity e.g. marathon, cycle, walk, whatever

Make your own wine/cheese

Learn to manage your finances and investments

Confront any fears or mental issues that you might have

Learn to drive if you haven't already

Learn how to program and then work on a few IT projects

Qualifications that you can look into getting:

Personal trainer qualifications

Sports coaching - I had friends who have certificates for football, basketball, etc. You will need to be at least level 2 in order to coach in a sport

Professional IT certificates

Start your professional accounting qualification (depending on the accounting body, you might get a standalone qualification after completing X number of papers) e.g. ACCA, CIMA, ACA; consider AAT Level 3 if you are not going to do an accounting degree or want a full on accounting qualification yet

SCAE, tea sommelier, cheese connoiseur, wine sommelier, beer sommelier/cicerone, sake sommelier, whiskey amabasador, mixology - anything else related to drinking and food

Chef qualification from a brand name institution e.g. Cordon Bleu

CILEx for law at Level 3

Marketing e.g. IDM, CIM, IPA at Level 3

CIPD Level 3 for HR

Licenses - fancy driving a motorcycle, lorry, forklift, bus?

Finance related qualifications e.g. Anything by CII, CISI, LIBF, CeMap up to but not including level 4

Bartending certificates - some bartending schools will allow you to work with them upon completing their course e.g. European Bartending School (which also has bars across the world)

Something related to health and wellbeing e.g. reflexology

Anything in construction and trades at your local adult college (you should be able to start at Level 3)

Language Certificates - recognised by the country they originate from e.g. DALF or Frantastique if you have already done A Level French

Counselling Level 3

Life coaching qualifications

Teaching English as a Foreign Language recommend CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL

Do note for any qualification Level 3 or under recognised under the NVQ framework you would need to likely fund for yourself, unless you decide to take out and Advanced Learner's Loan
If you want to work on skills that would help with your studies at university, consider:

Touch typing

Speed reading

Becoming proficient in Microsoft Office

Learning how to write academically


As you are only free for a year, you would only be able to manage a handful of things, so you should choose carefully.
What would be ideal is if you tried getting a job that isn't based in retail, hospitality, care homes, or supermarkets. Ideally, you want something that's more closely aligned with what you want to do in the future.
Oh wow those are such good recommendations! Thank you so much. I've already chosen some of the things from your list.
Reply 3
Original post by NazifaNawer
Hey guys, I will be taking a gap year after I'm done with A levels this June and I don't know how NOT to waste this whole year. I have some stuff planned but will run out of them after the first few months. Can you all share your experience with gap years and how to make my gap year more productive, meaningful and fun?

"Can you all share your experience with gap years and how to make my gap year more productive, meaningful and fun?"
Heyy,i'm not get a gap year in my whole life but if i need to take some,i can certainly searching for making money like a homeoffice half time job,or create a yt chanel for fun,read a LOT of books (fun books lol) or just simply get started over your life again - redraw your life. Clean them of things and people you don't like anymore and make this be the more more meaningful as possible for you!
Good Luck 🍀🐞
Reply 4
Original post by Julia1804
"Can you all share your experience with gap years and how to make my gap year more productive, meaningful and fun?"
Heyy,i'm not get a gap year in my whole life but if i need to take some,i can certainly searching for making money like a homeoffice half time job,or create a yt chanel for fun,read a LOT of books (fun books lol) or just simply get started over your life again - redraw your life. Clean them of things and people you don't like anymore and make this be the more more meaningful as possible for you!
Good Luck 🍀🐞

Thank you! You didn't take a gap year but your advice is actually good. I truly am hoping to clean my life while enjoying the gap year especially by reading a lot of fun books like you said😁
Reply 5
Original post by NazifaNawer
Thank you! You didn't take a gap year but your advice is actually good. I truly am hoping to clean my life while enjoying the gap year especially by reading a lot of fun books like you said😁
hope you love your gap year 🥂🎓

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