Gap years are an essential part of so many student’s experiences. For some, it is a chance to head out on a gap year prior to starting university, for others it’s a chance to explore the world before completing a postgraduate course, like a Postgraduate Diploma. When heading out on a university gap year, you will need to keep an eye on the various agencies that can help facilitate your move. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to have an agency to help you with a gap year, however, if you’re considering doing a work placement abroad or if you’re considering doing various activities abroad, then its probably best to work with a gap year agency. Here is what you should be looking out for with gap year agencies.
Keep an eye on the costs
Gap year placements are not cheap and the agencies themselves know how to charge for them! Make sure you keep an eye on the potential costs and you keep an eye on what the agency offers by way of benefits. If they are just a go-between who offer very little else for you besides simply setting your gap year dream in motion, then they may not be worth the time, however, if they offer you support (see below) or if they offer you advice on what to do next, then it may be worth paying the premiums. Quite apart from the cost of the agency, you should also keep an eye on the cost of everything else that you need as well, such as visas, travel insurance, flights and food.
Check their reputation
Reputation is everything in this game. As with everything in life, there will always be people who will try to take advantage of students and who will try to exploit people, so it is best that you keep an eye on the reputation of the agencies you’re working with. There are other benefits to a good reputation as well though. Those that have a good reputation will likely have access to the best potential gap year placements as they are so well revered, which increases your opportunities abroad. A company’s reputation is also essential for their finances as well. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, finances are tight, so you want to ensure that the company has got the ability to help you out financially if you hit any problems along the way or have got the ability to bring you home.
How is the support?
Gap year agencies have to offer support for the students that use them. When you’re on a gap year, there can be a number of things that may be new for you, That can be anything from experiencing homesickness or mental health issues, experiencing financial difficulties or even just general enquiries about the local economy or population. The best gap year agencies are the agencies that support their workers and who offer genuine support for people. This also extends beyond just general advice and help; a number of agencies have also started offering financial support for people as well. As you are likely to be on your own, this may be your first time working with finances of this magnitude, so it makes sense for you to have some support with the agency in this instance. Some agencies have even been known to hold your finances in escrow until such time as you need it or they may have a system whereby the finances are drip-fed to you like pocket money so that you have a steady stream of income.
What is their selection criteria?
Not all gap year agencies take everyone who walks through the door on. It’s surprising to think that a business that accepts cash for their services would have strict selection criteria, but they really do! Some placements may have specific selection criteria and may only allow a certain number of participants, which is where the agency’s selection criteria will come into play. The agency needs to make sure that the placement itself is a good fit for you and is a good fit for the people running the placement. The agency will want to make sure that you are being well represented and that your best interests are at heart. Some agencies specialise in finding individual people an opportunity, whereas others specialise in group opportunities, this means that you will want to keep an eye on who you are applying to and what their selection criteria are.
Gap year agencies are a great way of finding good opportunities abroad and they are a great way of meeting new people. Make sure that the finances are right for you, that their reputation is up to your standards, they that have sufficient support for you and that you are familiar with the agency’s selection criteria.
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