Hello everyone and welcome to day #53. Today, I going to be talking about the pros and cons of my gap year and whether I am happy I took one. Deciding to take a gap year is such an important decision so I would like to help everybody that is considering a gap year as much as I can. Plus, giving out wisdom makes me feel more important haha.
When I was approaching the time to make my decision between university or a gap year, I didn’t even have to think twice. I wasn’t ready for university so I knew I wasn’t going to start in 2016. The idea of university scared me, I had no idea what I wanted to study and I just didn’t think it was for me so I really had nothing that made the decision hard for me. I still look back to when I had to defer my year of entry on my UCAS application and agree with it. There was no point me starting university and dropping out when it all got a little bit scary. If I was forced to go, I wouldn’t have gone to a university far away and I would have certainly stayed at home and commuted – which I don’t think I would have enjoyed at all. Overall, I think I made the correct decision at the time to suit my circumstances and how I was feeling.
- Having some time off worrying about exams and having to cram a stupid amount of information into your head is something that I couldn’t recommend more. Yes, 14 months is longer than most people need but that’s just how long I needed to have to be able to start university with the next academic year. Being able to do what you like for that amount of time is lovely. Whether that’s get a job, stay at home or travel, it’s a wonderfully calming thing to do and, if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed from college, it wouldn’t be a bad plan to have some time off.
- Growing up. Between the ages of 18 and 19, you grow up SO much! I used to be scared of everything and, in the past year, I have done multiple things that pre-gap-year-Claire would have been scared to do. Plus, now I can cook a few more dishes and know how to use a washing machine. I just feel so much more mature.
- This one is a pro for me but probably won’t affect some people but having a gap year has been amazing for my anxiety! The last panic attack I had was in June 2016 – a month before I started my gap year. That must say something. I actually written a whole blog post about how my gap year has improved my anxiety so I will link that HERE if you would like to read it.
- Being able to properly get yourself ready for university. As I already had my A Levels and wasn’t resitting any, I was able to apply for a course I wanted to study without worrying about getting in because I already knew which courses I had the right grades for. This also meant that I knew which university I would be studying at so I could book my accommodation early as well as being able to apply for my student loan and get all of my things bought. I feel like, as I had so much time, I didn’t have to rush anything at all and nothing about the university process was stressful (yet *touch wood*).
- You can listen to how your friends are getting on at university and learn from their mistakes. I have had loads of useful tips from my friends as they have all been saying “when you go, don’t do this” or “you have to do this” and that is really handy!
- You can use your year off to explore you other options.Yes, university is a great idea for some people but there are other ways to get onto most career paths. While I have been on my gap year, I have explored the idea of apprenticeships, internships, further education courses at a college instead or just getting a job. I had a week in January where i went to loads of interviews with a range of different people but none of them really kicked the idea of university out of my head enough for me to change my mind. If you go back to my January blog posts, you will see my train of thought and how I stayed with the idea of university.
But, that doesn’t mean that this gap year was an easy ride and a lovely 14 months off…
- It’s all down to you. You have nobody there to tell you where to go or have a plan for you. If you don’t have a scheduled plan then you could get a little bored or lost as you will literally be stuck at home with nothing to do. Keep yourself busy!
- You will have to listen to your friends enjoying their new lives at university. They will constantly be telling you all these new names and what they are doing, which may be a little disheartening if you have just come back from a really long day at work that pays £5.75 an hour or something. Not fun.
- Sometimes, it may be a little quiet around where you live because there isn’t as many people there. You may be used to seeing one of your friends all the time but now they are 100 miles away at university, which just isn’t the same.
- One thing that is probably silly but really affected me is the fact that you aren’t a student anymore – therefore you have to pay for dentist appointments and full price in shops. No student discounts – £19 bill at the dentist. I understand that isn’t a biggie but it isn’t great.
- You can’t start your course at university in October, January or May… If you are taking a gap year, it’s a year. If you decide that you are just sitting around without a plan or any motivation and you made a mistake taking a gap year, you may still have to wait till the September following, if you course starts then, to actually start university. If this does happen to you then please do not give up. I started my gap year job officially in March so don’t think you just have to sit on your bum for a year. There are plenty of things you can do.
I was going to try and think of a 6th con but couldn’t. Although my gap year hasn’t been as magical as a movie, it has still been a table turner in the way that I feel about university. I completely understand that a gap year isn’t for everyone and that most people would benefit more from going straight into their next step after university but personally, I needed a year to get myself ready, mature and feel mentally stronger – all of which i achieved. I am VERY happy I took a gap year and I hope that anybody reading this that is planning to take one or who is already having one will enjoy it as much as I did. I hope you have all enjoyed this post and I will see you tomorrow for day #54! Just 3 days left of 56 Days of Summer – crazy!