Lifestyle | Gap Year Advice

I decided I was taking a gap year shortly after submitting my UCAS application. It was motivated by a number of things; health, money, wanting a bit of time out from education etc. I've now been at university for nearly two months and loving every second. And I'll be honest, I reap the benefits of taking a gap year every day. Two of my flatmates also took a gap year and in most cases the difference between us and the fresh out of school freshers is considerable.

I will admit it is hard seeing your school friends off on adventures at uni while you're staying put. Of a Saturday evening you'll go on snapchat to see people getting all glammed up ready for a night out and you'll be sitting at home watching Strictly with your mum. But I had my own amazing experiences throughout the year, meeting new people and trying new things along the way.

If you are considering taking a gap year, I'd suggest you consider a number of these tips. They are all based on my own gap year experience.

What are you going to do in your gap year? Stay at home or see the world. There's no 'right answer' it's just whatever suits you best. Personally I stayed at home and worked for a year but still had an amazing time. And I know people who have lived abroad and travelled for a year, which of course also sounds amazing. Think about what you're going to get the most out of and once you've made a decision, get planning.

Think ahead.
One of the particularly valuable things about taking a gap year is the fact that it gives you a whole 365 extra days to get ready for university. If you're working during your time out of education, make sure you're putting at least a little bit of cash aside every month ready to support you when you're at uni. Don't just think about money, take the time throughout the year to sort key bits and pieces like your accommodation, student bank account and also buying all the necessities for your flat.

Think about your course.
If like me you deferred a place at uni before commencing your gap year (rather than applying for uni during your time out) you have a wonderful opportunity to get ahead. It sounds geeky but get reading books around your chosen subject and get some work experience where possible. I've spent the past year working in a school - before I start my teacher training at university - and the experience has put me in such good stead for starting my course.

Learn life skills.
A definite benefit of a gap year is the extra year it gives you to mature a little bit and learn some valuable life skills. Boring I know, but stay with me here. Through my gap year I learnt some good skills in terms of cooking, food shopping, cleaning and budgeting. All those important grown up things you need to know when living by yourself for the first time. 

Take some time to chill. A Levels/College can be so stressful, as will uni when you get there. Although you don't want to be sitting around and doing nothing for your whole gap year, make sure you give yourself some time to relax and have a proper break. Get yourself on holiday if you funds are in line.

Taking a year out before uni is something I don't regret at all. I've had an extra year to grow as a person and live a little before taking on the responsibility of a degree and living away from home. Now that I am here at uni I don't regret taking a gap year at all and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Did you take a gap year?

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