Gap year after bachelor’s degree – yes or no?

With the bachelor's degree a milestone has been reached. A new decision is coming up. Would you like to seamlessly transfer to a Master's program or would you prefer to start your professional life directly?? Still undecided? These two choices are not the only options you have. Graduates also decide to take a break from their studies for the time being. You can use this time off to pursue personal interests or, even better, figure out where you want to go professionally. Ideally, the experience will even be useful for starting a career later on.

What are the reasons for taking a break between bachelor's and master's degrees?

Why is it only now that you are taking a break?? Because the schedules in the bachelor's/master's system are often tight, students hardly have time to realize something besides their studies. In terms of study abroad experience, this is even paradoxical, as the new degrees should increase student mobility and make it easier to transfer to a university abroad.

So what are your reasons for taking a gap year??

  • The exam period was exhausting and you just need a break from your studies.
  • You still want to see something of the world before you start your professional life.
  • You are not sure yet which master it should be.
  • You want to gain work experience first before you enroll again.
  • You didn't get a master's place and want to bridge the waiting period.
  • Your master starts only every two years.
  • etc.

Ideas for a gap year: what's on offer?

Internship: An internship is a good idea if you want to look around on the job market. Because internships offer the chance to get to know several companies. You gain practical experience and at the same time get career guidance. This can be especially important for humanities scholars*.

Going abroad: in times of pandemic, it was not possible to go abroad for a long time. But Work& Travel or volunteer service are true classics for the gap year; countless fellow students before you have already tried this during their gap year. If, on the other hand, you want to concentrate entirely on learning a language, you can pursue this goal with a language study trip. Improve your language skills in no time in a course lasting several weeks.

Social commitment/honorary work/volunteering: During the gap year, you finally find the time to do something for your personal development. The programs “weltwärts” and “kulturweit” offer the possibility to get involved in NGOs, orphanages or schools. But a voluntary social year does not necessarily have to be done abroad. There are also meaningful tasks at home.

How does a gap year look on your resume?

Good. Of course, it depends on what you have done in the time, but experience abroad, first practical activities and social commitment are always well received. What makes a particular impression depends on the company and can therefore not be answered in a blanket manner. Those who openly admit to having used the year for adventure can score points, as can someone who has volunteered or completed internships. Your time off simply has to fit you.

What financial and legal aspects need to be considered:

Will I lose my BaföG entitlement??

A gap year is generally not eligible for funding. On the other hand, you don't need to be afraid that you won't receive BAföG after the gap year: A Master's degree will be funded despite a break – no matter how long it lasted. However, you must observe the age limit of 35 years for approval.

Do you get child benefit during your gap year??

Whether child benefits are still paid during the gap year depends on various factors. As a general rule, students receive child benefit until they turn 25. However, if you decide to take time off between your Bachelor's and Master's degrees to complete internships or travel the world, you will not receive child benefits during this time. This will only work out again when your studies continue.

Good chances of receiving child benefits are those who choose to do a recognized volunteer service. People who spend their gap year doing a voluntary social year, for example, also receive child benefit during this time.

Do I have to pay for my own health insurance during this time?

If you are studying, you are usually covered by the health insurance of one of your parents, or you are covered from the age of 26. You have to be a compulsory member of the student health insurance before you reach the age of 18. If you are not enrolled, then logically you can't claim it either.

With the exmatriculation these possibilities expire. From then on you have to take out voluntary health insurance. Those who complete internships or do voluntary service are usually considered employees and are insured through their employer.

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