Are you feeling the pressure to follow the status quo as you watch many of your friends completing university applications at the moment? Are you really nervous to admit to your friends and parents that you have been contemplating a gap year or an entirely non-academic future after the IB? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!
The concept of a ‘gap year’, which emerged during the 1960s, is when a student takes time out from education before starting university. Over recent decades, gap years have become an increasingly popular phenomenon for people of all ages, in all professions, at various times in their careers. A gap year can be the perfect opportunity to develop skills, explore new or existing interests and a time of crucial personal development. In fact, 7% of all UK university applicants chose to defer their entry to university in 2012 and take a gap year instead! 
Let’s explore to 3 alternatives paths to completing a traditional university degree directly after the IB:
Why beat around the bush when you have the option of stepping straight into employment?! Getting some work experience can be a great opportunity to gain some real-life experience and develop key skills. If you haven’t considered this before, why not? Is it perhaps that you feel you are inexperienced and thus, think ‘who would hire me’?
With the world economy booming, most businesses are looking for people to hire and thus, there are job opportunities everywhere. If you have an idea of a career path, it might be a great idea to look for industry experience or an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships involve entering a specific working environment and getting the on-the-job training from a supervisor. Most countries run national apprenticeship programs which you can apply for and have apprenticeships across an entire spectrum of subjects. In fact, in Germany alone, 540,000 new apprenticeships were begun in 2011!
Another great opportunity to gain some experience is to consider teaching English. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) refers to teaching the English language to students with different first languages. To enter TEFL, many employers will expect you to hold one of two certificates; Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL). Both these certificates are widely accepted and can be done either online or at a course center. Once you have your certificate you can begin teaching in your local community or abroad immediately!
Travel or Backpack around the continent of your choice!
Traveling is one of the oldest gap year ideas around, but there is a good reason for this! Traveling allows you to see new, exciting, and beautiful places. Two popular routes are to either Inter-Rail in Europe or Backpack through South-East Asia.
Europe can easily become your oyster– getting an InterRail global pass will allow you to visit 30 countries in a month. Travel from Eastern to Western Europe, or from Scandinavia in the North to Malta in the South as you please! While there aren’t Inter-Rail passes in South East Asia, the circuit of visiting Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia is an increasingly popular route for backpackers.
Make use of the Internet!
If you’re feeling unsure about what to study or want to explore a new interest from the comfort of your own home, why not begin by taking an online course to see if you like it? Today, there is a full spectrum of online courses available to you; ranging from social media strategy to creative writing to business management. The duration, level, and commitment required of the course will depend on which organization you choose to do your course with.
The internet is also a great way to do some online volunteering or even an internship! An increasing number of institutions are beginning to recognize the value of having people work remotely and offer virtual internships! Indeed, even the U.S. State Department has started a Virtual Internship Scheme to recruit U.S. students to work on projects remotely! It could be worth contacting big organizations, companies, and institutions whether they offer these kinds of opportunities.
Finally, the internet itself can be a useful platform to showcase your work on as employers will appreciate being able to tangibly see your passion, dedication, and commitment to a specific field. Perhaps you could start a weekly blog where you write short stories or your opinion about current events? Perhaps you could start using Canva to create different mood boards for your fashion or interior dreams? The possibilities are endless!
Regardless of what you decide to do after IB, remember – the world is your Oyster!