Gap Years and what you should know about them

What is a gap year?


You might hear talk about the fabled gap year around the school yard, but not really understand what it’s all about. Well, for some people it’s basically a well deserved brain break after completing high school or university (or even several years in the same job).

Quite simply it’s when you take some time out of your regular life or routine to concentrate on yourself.

Yep that’s really all there is to it.


The best time to take a gap year


In an ideal world, you’d take a gap year when you’ve finished one project or life chapter, before starting the next.

For example, once you’ve finished Year 12 you might like to take a gap year before you start your uni degree. Or after you’ve completed your tertiary studies, a gap year before you start working could be perfect for you.

But realistically, there is no right or wrong time, you can even take gap years once you’ve started working (terms vary depending on your employer).


Gap year ideas


Got itchy feet? You could travel.

Need more life experience? No problem, you could learn new languages and skills. Contribute to worthwhile projects and volunteer to help others.

Perhaps you just need to make some money so that you can afford to continue on the pathway you’ve chosen without accumulating huge debts. Not only would you reap the financial rewards, you’d also benefit from getting work experience, improving your employability skills, networking, and building on your resume.

Take the opportunity to decide what you’re looking for from future studies, career goals or other endeavours, and refocus.


  • Take a gap year overseas

Immerse yourself in new cultures, learn a language, experience life from an alternative perspective. Learn to live independently and be responsible, they’re great qualities that could serve you well.

Whether you choose to travel independently or as part of an organised tour, there’s plenty of help out there to help you maximise on your year out.

Have a look at:

It’s perfectly ok to go away and be a tourist for a year too, undoubtedly you’ll still gain a wealth of experience as well as having fun.


  • Get a Gap Year Job

You could make the most of your gap year’s need to earn but still have some fun and new experiences. You could find jobs near home, in different parts of Australia, or even in a different country.

Things you could try include:

  • Ski Season and other seasonal workers
  • Teaching e.g. teach others English overseas, or make some money teaching your skills (e.g. playing an instrument, maths tutor)
  • Summer Camp
  • Life guard
  • Au Pair
  • Become part of an outdoor adventure crew
  • Resort work
  • Cruise ships
  • Internships
  • Tour guide
  • Hospitality


You can apply to take part in an ADF gap year program – whether you’re considering joining up or not.

You could experience a number of jobs that the Army, Navy or Air Force have to offer, as well as gaining new skills e.g. leadership , meet new people, travel and go adventuring.


What are the benefits of taking a gap year?

There are lots.

  • You could broaden your horizons
  • experience new things
  • learn new skills including life skills
  • uncover hidden passions or discover new ones
  • prepare yourself for uni
  • have adventures
  • make you more appealing to potential employers by displaying qualities such as initiative independence, open-mindedness, problem solving, maturity and grit.
  • experience the world outside the classroom
  • relieve some of the pressure about choosing your pathway and allowing time to make choices that reflect what you really want to do


How to tell if a gap year is the right option for you


Give it some thought, decide what you might like to do if you took a gap year, then find out what’s involved including time scales and costs.

If you’re in Year 12 right now, you can still apply for uni later in the year, then when you’ve received your offer –  you might be able to defer for a year.  Meaning you could take a gap year knowing that when you come back in 12 months, your place at university will still be waiting for you.

Make sure you read up about deferring uni, check that it’s an option for the institution or course you’d most like to attend. You can also find out about applying for university when you’re no longer a school leaver, giving you some breathing space if you’re unsure about the course you really want to study right now.

Still undecided whether it’s the right step for you? Perhaps our Gap Year Quiz could help you make up your mind.

Talk about it with your parents, friends, and teachers. Start doing some research and find out how you could make the most out of the opportunities available to you.

If you don’t think it’s the right time for you, then you can just shelve the idea and come back to it later if you want to.

To find out more about Gap Years or be inspired by opportunities that are out there, you could head over to our dedicated page and start your journey there.


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