Taking a gap year
A gap year is the year between finishing school and starting further study or training. It’s also known as ‘Year 13’ or taking a ‘Big Year Off’. If you’re not sure what to do at the end of Year 12 you might like to take a gap year.
Why should I take a gap year?
Here are some reasons you might choose to take a gap year:
- If you’re not sure what you want to do in the future
- If you don’t get into the course you really want to do
- If you want to take a break from studying
- If you want to gain skills and experience to get into a course
- If you want to make some money before going to uni/TAFE
What can I do in my gap year?
There are plenty of things that you can do with yourself during a gap year. Whether you want to improve your job prospects or get some experience that's relevant to what you'll be studying, or even if you just want a break, here's some ideas to consider.
This could be your chance to take that round-the-world trip you’ve always dreamed of. Visiting other countries and seeing how other people live is a life-changing experience. Just keep in mind that a year-long holiday might be frowned upon by future employers. If you need to explain what you were doing that year, try to describe it in terms of gaining experience and developing new skills (if you can).
To get the most out of your travel experience you could spend some time working abroad as well as doing the tourist thing. Or maybe you’d like to try student exchange and experience life with a host family.
There are lots of opportunities out there. Our Travel & transport section is a good place to start looking for ideas.
Work placements can give you valuable skills and experience. A combination of formal study and on-the-job training looks really good on your resume.
If you want to do a degree in fine arts you might first do a short course and then spend some time creating pieces for your folio. If you want to make it big in business you could organise work experience with some successful companies.
Check out our Jobs & careers section for more options.
Volunteering is a great way for you to learn new skills while making a positive contribution to the community. You’ll be surprised at how many different volunteering options there are. You can volunteer on projects close to home or on the other side of the world. You can volunteer by yourself or as part of a team and there are both short-term and long-term placements available.
Picture yourself building homes in Vietnam or preserving Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Or maybe you’d like to run after-school activities for indigenous children in Central Australia.
Check out our Volunteering & work experience section for more options.
Train with the Australian Defence Force
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) Gap Year program provides an opportunity for young Australians, who have finished year 12 (or equivalent) within the previous two years, to experience continuous military training and lifestyle before going on to study or a selected career.
It provides a once-in-a-lifetime "one year work experience" program in the Navy or Army rather than a "career" for life.
The Air Force Gap Year program is currently not available.
Check out the ADF Gap Year website (new window) for more info.
How can I find out more?
You can plan your own gap year or you can join an organised gap year program. Check out these websites for more info on working holidays and volunteering opportunities.
Gap Activity Projects (new window)
Providing volunteer opportunities for young people on their gap year.
Student Placement Australia (new window)
Placing students and young professionals in jobs and training opportunities overseas.
YHA - Working Overseas
The Youth Hostel Association website offers tips for working overseas.