Finishing my gap year: Do I want my deferred uni place?

It’s "this time next year" already! Where did the time go? Wherever you are the gentle hum of "preparing for uni" noise seems to be getting louder. You expected to feel excited, but you’re actually feeling a little flat; you just seem to be going through the motions. 

Maybe over the last few months a thought or two has popped in to your mind questioning your choice of degree or even going to uni at all. Very quickly you've dismissed it, pushed it away, telling yourself "don't be silly... this was "always what I wanted to do". 

Or maybe you've even found yourself browsing the odd website looking at other courses, contemplating your options and subsequently coming to the conclusion that it’s better stick with what you know. 

Now is the time to be honest with yourself. Is this really what you want to do for the next three years and potentially beyond that? Follow these steps to help find the right path for you.

Did my gap year unlock a new passion?

During your gap year, you may have identified a vocation that you hadn't contemplated when you were 17. Consider firstly what you have noticed about yourself that’s different a year on. Secondly, consider what you want from higher education now you've gained a new perspective.

Does my personal statement still reflect who I am?

Dust off your original personal statement. Notice how you feel when you read it, does it resonate with you in the same way it did when you wrote it? If it doesn't, ask yourself what is that you don’t agree with, contemplate what is it that’s changed for you and consider what has inspired you to think differently. 

Does the course I applied for still fit in with my life plan?

Next go back to the uni prospectus and review the course details. Do the opportunities for learning and personal development still resound with you? Whatever it was that motivated you to apply, do you still feel that way now? Ask yourself, if you had the opportunity to re-apply to this course now, would you?

It’s important that you don’t make a decision that affects your life long term on a potentially temporary and emotional state of mind. Having completed the second and third step, return to them again after a couple of days and see how you feel. 

where do i see myself

Where do I see myself in five years' time?

Find somewhere peaceful and visualise that you in the future. If you could have discussion with the "future you" how would they advise you, what decisions did they make, what are their plans for the future. Tap in to your intuition. If you've been day-dreaming, making a new life plan that doesn't include your firm offer, it’s time to make some serious and well-considered choices.

If even after these questions you remain in two minds, or need fully convincing, you need to do the following four things: 

1. Seek alternatives to your firm offer: Before entirely ruling out your current university, contact them and discuss courses which may align with your future plans and confirm whether any of these alternatives have places from September. 

2. Contact the university you want to apply to: Contact the admissions team at the new university to check whether they still have places available. Because you will have your grades the university may be in a better position to give a strong indication of the likeliness to secure a place during this academic year. 

3. Do your research: Visit the university, the time between now and A-Level results day will be invaluable. You can find lots of helpful advice on how to research in our Adjustment & Clearing section. 

4. Speak to 2014 freshers on TSR: Talk to other 2014 freshers in our university forums. Ask why they chose to accept that university as their firm choice? What is their primary motivating factor for wanting to study there? 

Now you've done all of this, it's time make your final decision over which direction you're going to take.

Can you access Clearing 2014 as a 2013 applicant?

To access Clearing 2014 you must be in the current application cycle. So as a 2013 applicant you will not "eligible" to use Clearing this year. But this doesn't mean it's the end of the road for you. 

If your "firm" choice doesn't have another option that works for you, you will have to request that they completely withdraw your application and release you from their offer. 

On confirmation of being released you would then have the opportunity to submit a new application for 2014 Clearing if the university you are now interested is offering places through this route. 

More on TSR: 
How to find the course you want in Clearing
View our essential guide to Clearing 
How to handle university Clearing

Making an application in 2015

If there are no places available then you will need to consider making a new application for 2015, this will mean creating a brand new personal statement. 

You’ll also need to get back in touch with your former college or sixth form for a new reference. 

Feeling a bit rusty? Check out our brand new Personal Statement Builder.

Taking a second gap year

Think of it as another jewel to your crown. Be strategic and consider how this year can set you up for a successful time at uni and your future career. 

Consider applying for an internship or a volunteer role that will complement your degree, especially if you’re now choosing a course which is vocational. You may also want to work towards developing another skill like a foreign language or a complementary therapy. 

Taking the time to learn is very different to having to study, learning something you are really interested in without the pressure to seek an A grade can be enjoyable whilst providing you with the chance to develop a new network of friends and contacts, experience and something that undoubtedly you’ll be able to draw upon as a very helpful resource in the future.

Use this time to continue to grow and have peace of mind that when the time arrives for you to begin your university adventure you will thank yourself for the decision you were brave enough to make. Do something today that your future self will thank you for. 

More on TSR: 
How a gap year can improve your university chances
Read about how to prepare for a gap year here 
What are the alternatives to uni?

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