Four reasons to take a gap year before university

Why the time could be right for time out

When everyone you know is going straight to uni after A-levels, it's easy to dismiss the idea of a gap year out of hand.

But after 14 years of school and college, the end of A-levels is the first time you're genuinely free to choose to do whatever you want.

Here are four reasons to consider taking a gap year before you leap into another three years of education - along with some thoughts from TSR members who've taken one.

Already planning a gap year? You could travel the world for free if you win Circle's Education or Every Nation competition.

1. Universities like them

There's a bit of a myth about universities looking down on students who take a gap year. In fact, plenty of academics are on the record saying students should take one. That's not to say a gap year is a free pass into the uni of your dreams, but you can feel confident that 12 months out of education won't have a negative impact on your university chances.

Do check first, though. In some courses, notably the more science and maths-focused disciplines, admissions tutors might think differently. Call the university's admissions department when you are putting your application together to get their view on gap years.

Gap years can be an amazing experience, I loved mine. I went to Asia, Australia and the USA. So many things to do so make sure you plan ahead.


2. It builds your confidence

Most university applicants have never lived away from the family home. Making that move away from mum and dad is a steep learning curve, and a gap year spent travelling teaches you all those self-dependency skills before you've even got to uni.

Even if you don't move away during your gap year - perhaps staying home to spend a year working - the experience of being out of education is going to help you develop life skills that fresh-out-of-school uni students simply don't have. So, rather than being 'left behind' (a common worry for many would-be gap year students) you're actually getting ahead.

The purpose of a gap year is to 'find yourself'. Going travelling works best because you cut out all the distractions of media and social crap that swarm your life in school, and instead have to rely on your abilities to survive on a limited budget with limited resources. By becoming independent and having time to look in on yourself you discover what you want to do with your life. 


3. It builds your CV

What you do in your gap year might have a direct impact on your CV. Spend a year working an internship and you've suddenly got a ton of work experience to draw upon.

Even if you're not working, you'll still be building relevant skills. No-one travels the world for a year without strengthening traits such as planning and self-reliance. Whatever you choose to do, your experience can be used to build your CV before you've even started your degree.

I took a gap year (I'm now on my second gap year) and I don't regret it. Realistically it's the only time when you can spend the year as you like without being tied down to a career/uni.


4. There are a million things you can do

What's best to do on your gap year depends on your interests. Think about the practicalities: how much cash have you got, how much time do you have? Then look at the opportunities: what do you want to do, where do you want to go?

There are opportunities to do anything at all. You could interrail around Europe, you could backpack south-east Asia, you could volunteer at home or abroad, you could learn a new language, do an internship or help crew a billionaire's super-yacht. Whatever you want to do, you've got a whole year to do it.

Did we say we only had four reasons? While we're here, how about a cheeky fifth...?

5. You can do it all for free

TSR has partnered with payment app Circle on its competition Education or Every Nation. This competition has a genuinely outstanding prize: you can choose to have your university tuition fees paid in full (think about it, no tuition fee payments - at all - throughout your working life...) OR enjoy an all-expenses paid luxury one year trip around the world. It's free to enter. Actually, it's better than free because as soon as you enter you're guaranteed a separate cash prize of between 50p and £50. Enter the Education or Every Nation competition now, or find out more about the competition.

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