Taking a gap year before starting a Bachelor's degree has always been popular. In the past, young middle-class and upper-class would use it to travel and expand their cultural horizons. Typically, young Americans would travel to Europe and young Europeans would travel to the U.S. or other European countries.
But here’s a thought! Why not use a gap year to also prepare better for your undergraduate studies abroad? Nowadays, young people take gap years for different reasons. Some still do it because they want to travel the world. Others are not sure what they want to study during their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or want to take a job first to get more experience.
1. You can combine travelling with Pre-Bachelor’s courses
Say you dream of taking some time off after you finish high school to travel the world, meet new people and decide on your Bachelor’s specialization. Universities usually like students with some life experience, especially if they are able to show how a gap year has expanded their perspectives.
But, besides polishing your CV, a gap year can be used to check out the country or city where you want to study – see how it suits you. And since you’re there, why not take some Pre-Bachelor’s courses?
Pre-Bachelors are usually short and medium-term courses (2 months to a year) which help you prepare for your Bachelor’s admission. They will increase your chances of getting in a university, while at the same time give you the opportunity to start networking with teachers and other students.
Some great places where you can take Pre-Bachelor’s courses are:
- HTK- Academy of Design, in Germany
- Royal Roads University International Study Centre, in Canada
- Western Kentucky University, in the U.S.
- Lancaster University International Study Centre, in the UK
- ONCAMPUS Sunderland, University of Sunderland, in the UK
If you want an even more relaxed schedule, you can enrol at a blended-learning Pre-Bachelor’s which means you don’t have to be physically present at all courses. Some courses will be available online while others on-campus. Many American Universities offer this option, including:
The time you gain from a blended learning programme, you can use to spend more time with your family, take trips to other countries, or to find a job and gain practical experience.
2. You can use a gap year to take some online courses
Sometimes, a gap-year is a result of circumstances. Maybe your saving money for a Bachelor’s abroad, maybe you started a family earlier, or you have some other personal issues that prevent you from travelling immediately after high school.
If you are in such a situation, you can still make the best out of a ‘forced’ gap year by pursuing an online Pre-Bachelor’s. It gives you flexibility and helps you keep contact with the academic world, so that when you are ready for a full-time Bachelor’s you are not completely disconnected from the student environment. Some go-to institutions for online Pre-Bachelors and short courses can be:
- Open Colleges
- University of Wisconsin-Superior
- The Open University UK
- International Career Institute - USA
3. Use a gap year to prepare for more competitive Bachelors
If you’re the ambitious type of student who can’t imagine going to any other university than his top pick, you’ll be glad to know you are not alone. Many prospective Bachelor’s students choose to invest a year in a complex Pre-Bachelor’s programme that will give them a competitive advantage when applying for a Bachelor’s. While this is more a preparatory year than a gap year, you can still make the best of it, because the curricula is more relaxed than during Bachelor’s studies.
4. Taking a gap year depends on personal goals and ambitions
Opinions on gap years vary from person to person. Some say they are important to get practical life experiences and develop as an adult before doing Bachelor’s studies. Others prefer doing their Bachelor’s straightway because they want to graduate faster. In the end, it’s a matter of personal goals and ambitions, which are unique for every individual.
If you think a gap year can help you grow, see the world and better prepare you for your future studies, go for it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!