Travelling, voluntary work, saving money: they all sound excellent. You can choose to have a whole year out or just a couple of months between finishing Year 13 and starting university.
Generally, gap years prior to university are seen as a “good thing” as students mature and gain independence in that time. This is especially true if the gap year includes an activity or responsibility with a definite focus. Research shows that students who take a well-planned, structured year out are more likely to be satisfied with their choice of course and, even better, more likely to complete it with a 2:1 or first class degree.
It is always worth checking with your chosen institutions to find out what their policy is, just to be on the safe side. If a university feels you are likely to become “rusty” with your subject, sometimes the case with maths, sciences or languages, they will advise you accordingly. Some university courses do not like making too many deferred entry offers, especially on competitive or small courses as they feel that this will skew competition and may deprive good students of a place.
You could also consider a gap year after university, before you start work. This is becoming a more popular choice for graduates as they benefit from being a little older; they may have met friends at university that they want to travel with, and it will delay repayment of student loans. This may not be a good idea for all career areas, however, so it will be important to check this out if it is an option you are considering.
Whatever you choose, check that you can afford it and get plenty of advice before you decide. There are lots of sites to help you choose your gap year so search for what you are interested in. The following are useful starting points:
- Year in Industry (YINI) www.etrust.org.uk – for paid work opportunities in UK industries (particularly science/engineering)
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad) – travel advice
Gap Year and Volunteering Projects
- www.vso.org.uk – volunteering opportunities abroad
- www.vinspired.com - volunteering opportunities in England.