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Sunday, 22 August 2010 23:00
Gap year ideas to improve your CV Take on a challenge to improve chances of getting a uni place

Monday, 23, Aug 2010 03:46

Gap years have always been the place people seem to go to 'find' themselves. But how does coming back with an almost visible tattoo, long hair and a sun tan actually help anyone?

If you've just left school and the only difference for a university choosing between CVs is a year abroad, then the average partying on a beach gap year may once have been fine, especially when competing for places against straight out of school 18-year-olds.

But with the huge upsurge in university applications - according to UCAS an estimated 200,000 people will miss out on university places this year - everything has changed.

George Spiteri, an engineering graduate from Loughborough University, said: "All I know is I took a gap year and I didn't have to go for an interview to get into university. In fact, the only people I knew who didn't go for an interview were people who took a gap year first. One friend didn't even have the right grades, but he had taken a gap year, and got in."

Pre-university use to be about judging students with no significant difference outside their grades. Unfortunately with so many people applying, grades and a gap year alone aren't cutting it any more.

The way to do it now is to take a proactive approach to your gap year. Here are some gap year tips to double your life experience and give you an improved chance of a university place:

Try your hand at teaching

Teaching English as a Foreign Language, also known as TEFL, is a fantastic way to test yourself while also feeling rewarded for your efforts. It requires patience and creativity as well as improving your ability to interact in groups and one-to-one.

Teaching has always been seen as one of the most satisfying careers and doing this on a year abroad is a fantastic way to improve your CV while still being able to travel.

This is a fantastic idea if you are worried about cash flow as you can also find paid work with TEFL.

Giving back

Charitable trips are always going to be looked at in a positive light and the options are endless. The Raleigh International website provides tonnes of information on what exactly volunteering entails.

It is a great way to help poor communities or contribute environmentally and still benefit from the experience yourself, from gaining a deeper understanding of a culture to getting to see areas that are well off the usual tourist routes.

It's important to remember that volunteering will usually cost money and be unpaid so it's important to research your options and maybe work first to be able to afford the trip.

Taking on a challenge

Adrenaline junkies should consider focussing their energy into achieving something special, from climbing a mountain to cycling a country. Whatever challenge you take on, it shows commitment, dedication and great perseverance to complete these kinds of expeditions.

Trips require funding and most importantly, training. Commitment is key and for those wanting organised expeditions why not check out World Challenge to make the trip safer and easier to prepare for.

Study Overseas

With university places in short supply in the UK there's even more reason to study abroad and although the application process can take more than 12 months, the rewards are immeasurable.

Studying overseas shows initiative and is an ideal opportunity to learn a foreign language and take in a different culture. It's an amazing way to stand out when applying for jobs and will also give you better options for working abroad.

It's important to research where you would like to go and make sure you find credible institutions. The best way to do this is to look at the UKCISA website for advice.

By Tom Crosthwaite

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