A ‘real’ GAP Year refers to the year between finishing VCE and starting a tertiary course.  There are many reasons students may choose a gap year.  After perhaps 13 years of schooling, juggling part time casual work, extracurricular activities, sport, social activities as well as the school work,  some students feel ‘burned out’ and not ready to face more formal education. Others may feel uncertain about their future.  

A study conducted by Sydney University in 2013 indicated that a ‘constructive’ GAP year can have a positive effect on student’s motivation and a boost in performance for the first semesters at university.


‘A constructive GAP year? ‘………

  • Travel
  • Teach abroad
  • Volunteer at home or abroad
  • Gain work skills – either in paid employment or unpaid work experience
  • study

Some things to consider

  • you will be behind others who completed year 12 at the same time as you
  • gap years can help you get a global perspective and better understanding of global issues
  • volunteering placements and travel may be expensive
  • a job focussed gap year can help cover costs of your university education
  • your study skills might get rusty after a long break from studies, or it might be difficult to settle back into formal education
  • working and volunteering can help you gain new skills, develop existing ones, gain confidence and self esteem
  • gap year activities give you an opportunity to stretch yourself by trying a new challenge or experience
  • There is the risk of focussing too much on fun and relaxation which may not be the most effective use of your time.

Planning your gap year

The process of deferment
You should go through the usual application process for tertiary studies, receive (and accept) an offer, then defer / delay starting the course until the following year / semester.  Some universities have a midyear intake, so deferring can be for one semester. The usual deferment is for 12 months. Not all institutions and not all courses have deferment as an option. So do your research before applying and before asking for deferment.


Check the conditions of any scholarships you apply for – some have a ‘non deferment’ clause.


If your main reason for a GAP year is travel, consider the option of study and exchange programs while you are studying. Some tertiary institutions for example Deakin University have partnerships with universities overseas and even often scholarships to assist you.

Industry experience.

If your main reason for a GAP year is to work, many courses have industry placement / work experience as an integrated component, providing assistance and support in securing relevant placements.



  • Do your research –
  • Take time to plan and prepare - it can take 9-12 months to plan and raise the funds.
  • Don't think of your gap year as a break from your career or future studies. Keep in mind how you will capitalise on the skills and experiences gained to boost both your resume as well as personal and intellectual capabilities.
  • Think about your existing skills and how you could use them, e.g. mentoring, sport, first aid certificate, language skills, childcare skills

GAP years are being considered as a rite of passage by increasing numbers of Australian students, as well as overseas students.  A spin off from this is the development of large numbers of GAP year industries that offer services for volunteer placements, travel, and study exchange and work placement.  If you do a web search with ‘gap year’ as the key words, there are pages and pages of sites, so take your time with your research.


Below are some links to get you started. (Please note, that the sites or organisations listed below does not indicate endorsement or recommendation by the school)


Youth central is the Victorian Government Website for young people 12 – 25. It has a range of information and articles directly relevant to young people (health issues, rights, employment, study, leaving home, travel) as well as GAP year discussion.

Student placement : an Australian company which places students into work, training and study programs overseas

Volunteering Australia

Austalian Defence Forces

GVI : Gap Year Volunteering

Projects abroad : operates in 27 developing countries providing support to over 1000 local initiatives through the people-power of our volunteers

Latitude Global Volunteering

IEP:   working holidays



Project abroad.


High School Volunteer Projects are a great way for students in years 10 and 11 to take part in constructive and worthwhile trip during their summer holidays.

With volunteers typically aged 16-17, the trips combine cultural immersion with community focused volunteer work or work experience.

For a list of High School Volunteer Projects :








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