Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOORAH FOR THE DOUBLE GAP YAH! Now School-Leavers and New Graduates Are Taking Not One but Two Years out to Learn about Life, Says Victoria Stewart

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOORAH FOR THE DOUBLE GAP YAH! Now School-Leavers and New Graduates Are Taking Not One but Two Years out to Learn about Life, Says Victoria Stewart

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Stewart

WAVE goodbye to the gap year because life experience now comes in a 24-month package. The double gap year -- like one but twice the size -- is the latest must-have adventure for school-leavers and graduates.

This year, approximately 600,000 A-level students applied for just 18,000 university courses and as many as 200,000 didn't have secured places, leaving them disillusioned and desperate for a break from academia and a place on the Life Experience train.

Similarly, last year's graduates who had already taken one year out and then obtained a degree left student life just in time for the recession and a dangerously bleak job market. To them, more time out means more minutes spent honing those all-important life skills that employers now ask for.

Ben Keene, founder of Tribewanted.

com and Fair Trade Volunteering, a new, recognised standard for volunteering placements -- of which there are now hundreds -- argues that the shape of the normal gap year is changing as more options become available.

"Double gap years are being taken because of the problem with universities.

The idea of a well-structured gap year or two is becoming more popular, especially among 17-year-olds who have grown up with social networking -- discussing what's out there with a greater number of people is far easier," he says.

Travel companies aimed at students say bookings for gap-year routes for the next 11 months are higher than ever. STA Travel's John Constable said this month that he had seen record sales of working holiday visas in Australia as well as a 50 per cent rise in hits on the gap-year section of the company's website.

Both backpacking and undertaking volunteering schemes abroad are still greatly in demand -- STA notes that Camp Tanzania, its wildlife and community volunteering experience, is 2010's fourth most popular experience. …

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