Firstly, we’d like to wish everyone the best for their continued studies this year. It’s been a really difficult period for students and the uncertainty around exam results, university places, travel plan and employment have understandably left many feeling in a state of limbo. However this is also a tie of opportunity, creativity and showing what you can do despite all the disruption.
To help you navigate your way over the next few weeks and months, consider the following points when thinking about what you will commit to:
1. I wanted to take a gap year, should I still take one?
Yes, but it is likely that elements of it will be disrupted by the need for quarantine, testing or vaccine certificates. However opportunities are starting to increase and you can currently travel overseas if you have evidence that you are volunteering, working or studying. Our approved providers can advise you on the state of their programmes and schedules for the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. By 2022 we expect things to have settled down into a new normal but don’t leave your enquiries too late as we expect demand to be high. if you have an idea or just want to chat things through, get in touch with any of the providers you feel have something of interest for you.
2. I planned to go to university. Should I still go?
If your heart was and is still set on going to university to do a particular course and you get the results you need, then despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, we think it is worth continuing with that plan. Things will be different to what you might usually expect but you are committing to a three year study program (maybe more) and there will be many opportunities over that time to experience everything you hoped for.
a)If despite all that you still want to take a gap year, then talk to your university of choice about a deferral. Have a loose but committed plan in place for the next 12 months as they’ll be keen to know what you intend to do and you need to be motivated to get on an organise your year
b) If you planned to go to university but always felt a bit of unease about your choice of university or course, then consider your options once you get your results. You may find a different course and university that excites you much more but also consider deferring for a year and applying again if needed.
c) If you do not get the results you required, then you have options through clearing and also to defer a year, maybe ‘re-taking’ exams (we are not sure how that will look just yet) or simply re-applying to university with your known grades.
3. I want a gap year, what should I do next?
A gap year is always a challenge. It’s an opportunity for personal growth, reflection and to gain experience in work, volunteering, independent living and study and adventure. It builds cultural awareness, understanding yourself and others better and reflecting on what’s important. It is also hugely enjoyable and life-affirming.
However, it requires, effort, focus and planning. This doesn’t mean you have to fill every hour of every day with activity but you should have blocks of time committed to something to keep you on track and motivated. So, if your heart is now set on a gap year, this is what to do next:
- Get busy doing things, whether it’s applying for jobs, volunteering, doing something creative, learning new skills, taking exercise, helping out around the house or your community.
- Refresh or create a CV (to include the above) as you’ll need to be ready to apply for jobs locally and there will be lots of competition.
- Also take some time out to reflect and relax and take a break from screens and music-give your brain a rest!
- Research programs you may be interested in as part of travel overseas (or in the UK). Speak to several gap year and adventure travel companies about what is currently on offer, terms and conditions and get yourself on any waiting lists for the programs you are really interested in. There will be fewer overall because of country and flight restrictions so it’s worth doing now rather than leaving things to the last minute.
- If you plan some independent travel, you’ll need to do more research and keep an eye on updates about places you wish to visit. Be really careful of scammers and follow our guidelines, especially if you’re not planning to book anything through approved providers.
- Approved providers, should have good local knowledge, experience of being in the country, clear terms and conditions and disruption plans with excellent customer care.
- Get a calendar and work back month by month from September 2021 putting in the things you hope to have achieved or experienced in each one and therefore what actions you need to taken in previous months in order to achieve the goals. Include any admin you need to complete for university entry in 2021.
- Consider how you will fund everything: work up a budget, plan some fundraising activities, find paid work, part-time, temping or full-time.