Taking a Gap Year

taking a gap year

The run up to results day is scary: did that paper go as badly as you thought??? What’s next??? What happens if you don’t get in??? and what happens if you don’t want to go through clearing???? What happens if you do get in and don’t want to go??? All the questions????

It’s ridiculous and before I even really get into this post, I want you to know that whatever happens on results day, you are brilliant and wonderful and smart. I promise. And I do hope that this helps any of you if you’re in a similar sort of head space. 

My a-level results day wasn’t all that fun. It was stressful and upsetting and frustrating and all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole (or blanket cocoon) and cry. The only people that honestly know how upset I was that day are my parents. To cut a long story short, the subject I was expecting to do really, really well in didn’t go to plan and I was actually, 210% devastated.

The beauty of hindsight is that I can now look back on that day and go ‘well it wasn’t actually the end of the world’, mostly because when you get to university pretty much any qualification you get before that reaaallly doesn’t matter, but also because it meant that I could take a step back from education and work stuff out. 

Gap years. Gahp Yahrs. Planned or unplanned, they’re actually not a year wasted. 

I was faced with a lot of options on results day – picking another course at a different uni I hadn’t looked around, picking a similar course at a different uni in another country, remarks, resitting an entire year, resitting that subject, just quitting the whole education shebang and getting a job, 

There was  a lot of angst, speedy research, many a phone call and cup of tea were made over the clearing period. My parents were ace, but despite their encouragement and support, I just… didn’t feel like going somewhere new to do something I hadn’t really considered was a choice I wanted to make. My already wounded pride recoiled further at the idea of potentially resitting a year. I felt all around too young to be doing any of this, and my mind kept going back to a little leaflet I had in my room about gap years. 

It wasn’t something that was every really discussed at school in depth. We had one assembly from one of the associations that focuses on gap year travel, but that was it. The assumption is: you do upper 6th, you sit exams, you get into uni. Or you don’t and get a job. There wasn’t anything about deferral or other options open to you if you don’t get your grades on results day – which sucks, and makes the whole clearing panic way, way worse. 

So I made a list of the things I did and didn’t want at that moment in my life, and came to the conclusion that a gap year would be a really, really good idea. I didn’t want to spend money doing a degree I wasn’t invested in, in a place I didn’t like. I definitely didn’t want to ship myself off to a partner university in China or Australia if I felt too young to be shipping myself off to another city in the UK. All I wanted to do was sort my head out and regroup. I told my parents, they were good with the idea, and said that the only condition was that I had to get a job. 

Taking a gap year was probably one of the best decisions of my life so far. I had a job, in retail, and it taught me how to deal with new situations, new people, and money. It was also the first time in a long, long time I had been genuinely happy. In that year, despite not jetting off to have wild adventures in Thailand or Africa on one of the travel plans, I grew up a lot. I earned money that I set aside for my year abroad, I resat (and did waaay better on) subjects as well as taking up a whole new a-level, and I reapplied to uni and got unconditional offers. 

Gap years, whether you’re starting travel adventures that take you across the globe, or staying closer to home, can be a really good idea if you’re getting jittery about university for whatever reason. The buffer between school and that next step, a kind of plateau that makes things a little bit less scary. 

Whatever happens on results day, there will be an option that feels right for you, and it being right for you is the most important thing. 

I hope this is somewhat useful… what are your opinions on taking a gap year? Do any of you have gap year experience?

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  1. Katie
    August 10, 2015 / 8:59 pm

    aw such a handy post Fii! I wish I took a gap year it is crazy what people do in them. One of my friends went travelling!Katie | Katie’s World of Beauty ♥

    • Fii Cridland
      August 11, 2015 / 6:08 pm

      I'm glad you think so hun! I know a few people who explored the far reaches of the earth on amazing programs and have such interesting stories! Gap years definitely can be amazing!xo

  2. Simona Neupauerová
    August 10, 2015 / 9:03 pm

    I completely got you dear! It's an interesting question but I think both may have positives and negatives too. :)Simimaus

    • Fii Cridland
      August 11, 2015 / 6:13 pm

      There are definitely positives for going to uni straight out of school. as well as not going to uni at all – it's all about doing what's best for you!xo

  3. Jennifer Jayne
    August 11, 2015 / 8:50 am

    I wish I'd taken a gap year. I wish I'd travelled and done all the things I can't do now I'm in full time work.Jenn | Jennifer Jayne

    • Fii Cridland
      August 11, 2015 / 6:14 pm

      Awwh, I wish I'd traveled during mine as well, but I got to do that on my year abroad. I'm definitely not looking forward to reduced travel time when I get into full time work D:xo

  4. elizabeth
    August 11, 2015 / 11:31 am

    Just come across your blog and I love it! I took a gap year in between doing my A levels and it really benefited me, especially as I was the youngest in my year! I felt much more confident in my studies :DLove your posts – now following you on GFC! xxelizabeth | ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara | follow for a follow!

    • Fii Cridland
      August 11, 2015 / 9:59 pm

      Ahh I took mine for that reason too, I felt far too young to be running off to uni after being the 'baby' for so long.And awhh thank you so much!xo

  5. Jessica Edmunds
    August 11, 2015 / 8:45 pm

    YES YES and YES! I was disappointed with my a level results and now I'm like it really doesn't matter! I basically dropped out..ish of uni today..I know scary stuff eh but I am going to do travelling and an internship next year so ya know xx

  6. Martha Jane
    August 11, 2015 / 9:48 pm

    I had to take a gap year to recover from a blood infection, and I feel like having that time to think and reconsider changed my opinion on everything. Not sure whether I'd recommend it unless you really didn't know what you wanted to do instead, as I have a lot of regrets, but perhaps that's because my gap year wasn't my choice! xMartha Jane | http://www.marthajanemusic.com

  7. Milli Jarlett
    August 13, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    This is such a great post! I think it's such a good idea to wait until you are sure your making the right decision, there's never harm in taking some time off for yourself, as it normally means the next steps are much more lucrative! I took an unexpected gap year – but used it to take a foundation course and studied dance full time and it was the best year of my life! When i look back, I realise I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do before then. Milli artsandgraces.com

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