Taking a Gap Year

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Taking a gap year means taking a year off between finishing high school and starting further study or training. If you’re not sure what you want to do after finishing Year 12, a gap year can give you time to consider your options.

You can take a gap year whether or not you've been accepted into a university or TAFE course. If you've been accepted into a course, though, part of taking a gap year will involve deferring your studies.

Why should I take a gap year?

Here are some reasons you might choose to take a gap year:

  • You didn't get into the course you wanted and you want to reapply for a different course at the end of the year.
  • You want to take a break from studying.
  • You want to gain skills and experience to help you get into a course.
  • You want to make some money before going to university or TAFE.

What can I do during a gap year?

There are lots of things that you can do during a gap year. Whether you want to improve your job prospects or get some experience related to what you'll be studying, or even if you just want a break, here are some ideas to consider.

Travel

This could be your chance to take that overseas trip you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you want to stay local and do some travel around Australia.

To get the most out of your travel, you could spend some time working overseas 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

Working during your gap year can give you valuable skills and experience. It can also help you save money to pay for the costs of studying. You might even find a job that you like so much, you decide not to go back to studying.

Here are some work-related suggestions for your gap year:

  • Organise some work experience in an industry or area you're interested in.
  • If you already have a job, talk to your boss about taking on more shifts, transferring from part-time to full-time, or taking on more responsibility.
  • Look around for a new job to hang onto for a year.

Visit our Jobs & careers section for advice about finding and applying for jobs, and our Assistance while studying page for advice on paying for student life.

Study

Doing some study is also an option during your gap year. You might want to get into a course that requires particular skills. You might just want to get more familiar with the area you'll be studying in.

Short courses and online courses can be a way to get more skills and knowledge so you're feeling ready when you start your university or TAFE course. 

For example, if you want to do a fine arts degree you might spend your gap year doing some art-related courses and then spend some time creating your folio. 

Find out more about your gap year study options on our Other study options page

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to learn skills while making a contribution to the community.

There is a lot of flexibility in volunteering. 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. You can volunteer for a short or long time. 

Some examples of volunteering you could do on your gap year include:

  • helping to build homes in Vietnam or preserve Amazon rainforest in Ecuador 
  • running after-school activities for school-children in Central Australia
  • helping out at the local op-shop or soup kitchen.

Visit our Volunteering & work experience section for more ideas about ways to volunteer.

Returning to study

If you were accepted into a course at the start of your gap year, by the end of your gap year you might have decided you don't want to do that course any more.  

For example:

  • You might have found a job you want to hang onto.
  • You might have volunteered with an organisation you want to apply for a job with.  
  • You might have changed your mind about the course you want to do.

This is perfectly alright. One reason people take gap years is to have experiences that could change their mind about where they want to be in the future. 

You don't have to do the course you were accepted into. However, before deciding you don't want to do that course, it's important to think carefully about that decision. Talk to your family and friends about it. You might even discuss it with work colleagues or your boss.

Once you've decided, you need to let the course provider know you won't be studying with them. Keep in mind that there might be cut-off dates for pulling out of courses.

Once you've got that settled, you can start working on your new plans for the future. 

  • If you decide to look for work instead of returning to study, our Jobs & careers pages have lots of advice about finding and applying for work.
  • If you decide to apply for a different course, our Tertiary study and Applying for courses pages have advice about how to go about it. 

More gap year tips and advice

A gap year can be a great way to experience things you normally wouldn't as a student. The key is to know what you want to get out of it and then to work toward that goal.

For more tips and advice, visit: