BISP recently caught up with Tara Bancroft from the Class of 2020 who is on a gap year in Asia. A gap year is a year of experiential learning typically taken by newly-graduated Secondary School students. Many see it as a great way to recharge your battery before university, discover hidden passions and gain clarity on what careers and courses are right for you.
Some students also see a gap year as an opportunity to go through the university application process after the demands of the IB Diploma are over. Our University Counsellors manage 5 to 10 gap year students per year and these students are still welcome to the same service that any current BISP student has access to at school.
So Tara, how have you spent your gap year so far?

I moved to Bangkok at the beginning of June 2020, not long after graduation, to pursue modelling for six months. I then moved to Hong Kong at the beginning of January 2021 to continue modelling. In Hong Kong, I’ve got involved with some charity work with Feeding Hong Kong and have also been tutoring some current IB students.

Why did you decide to take a year out and what has it been like?TARA

I always wanted to take a year out, partially because I couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted to go on and study at university, but also because I felt I had so many goals and aspirations that I wanted to pursue but wasn’t able to as academics was my priority at school. I have really been enjoying my gap year so far. A positive I have found about my gap year is that I have a lot more time and freedom to do the things I love that I previously didn’t have time for. A negative, however, is that COVID-19 has limited my opportunities, as I had to cancel and adjust most of my gap year plans.

What is your plan for university next year? Has taking a gap year influenced your decision?

I applied to the UK and the Netherlands last year, and have received offers from UCL, Durham, Bristol, Edinburgh and EUR. I am currently in the process of deciding which university would suit me best. Taking a year out has helped me with the application process a lot in terms of organisation and efficiency, as I was able to dedicate all of my time and attention to university research and my personal statement. 

How do you think the IB helped prepare you for life outside of school?

I think that what I learnt in Psychology in particular is very applicable to the behaviour I experience and witness around me. I have noticed how psychology terms just spring to mind when I see a certain action/event, or even simply during a conversation. 

Do you have any advice for current BISP students?

Although I have been limited in what I can do this year, I would still highly recommend a gap year. It is the only year where you can explore different opportunities outside the field of traditional education. You also discover so much about yourself, and the experiences you have will best prepare you for university. 

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