Choosing whether or not to take a gap year can be a difficult decision. Only you can decide what’s best for you. After completing my college course in 2019, I took a year out which turned out to be extremely beneficial. If you’d like to find out whether it might suit you too, then keep reading…

A Summary of my Personal Experience: Choosing to Leave Education

For context I’d like to explain the situation I’d found myself in when I first decided to leave education.

At 16 years old, I’d only ever attended 6th form for a few weeks before going to study Creative Media at my local college instead. Making this choice was powerful and really gave me confidence in myself at a young age. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in media.

In the March of 2019, I applied for an apprenticeship in Factual Production at the BBC and was successful up until the final assessment at the end of June. I have no regrets in applying but it did mean that I didn’t have long to make a decision for my next step.

At the time, the idea of University didn’t inspire me. Along with this, my partner Nathan was planning on doing a final year at college before applying to leave the following year. Therefore, I planned to apply for the same year, knowing that I could always change my mind if any opportunities arose.

The Benefits: Lessons I Learnt

These are some of the positives that were a result of taking my year out. It’s important to remember these are all my personal experiences and so it doesn’t mean you will go through the same.

1. Learning to manage money

I was lucky enough to get a job relatively quickly and immediately started saving. I knew that I didn’t want to rely on my parents financially if I was to study and so did my best to put money aside each month. I would strongly recommend you try to have some kind of financial income.

Working part-time gave me the opportunity to still enjoy the break away from formal education while managing the money I had earned.

2. Easing into more responsibility

During this time, I stayed living with my parents but would often stay with my boyfriend a couple of nights a week. Compared to university, this can be an easier way to grow your independence, especially if you have a commitment like a job. You can take things at your own pace.

I am lucky that my parents supported me and felt proud that I could start buying things for myself like pay for my phone bill for example.

3. Discover my true interests and passions

One month, I was able to get take a week off to do some work experience with a production company in Cardiff. It give me a better understanding of the industry and therefore helped my decision for which course I wanted to study at uni.

It was difficult to be creative around my working hours which fuelled my desire to go back to education. Sometimes, it’s only when you don’t have something do you realise how much it matters to you.

4. Gain confidence

Both my job and the work experience I did helped to improve my confidence massively. Distracting myself with work also aided the grieving process I was going through after a close family member passed away over the summer.

When you are out in the “real world,” you are forced to adapt. And this will bring you confidence, particularly when making decisions.

Things to Keep in Mind: Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide

Everyone is different and so here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re still unsure as to what to do…

  1. Do I have a plan of what to do instead?
  2. Is it worth applying to University as a back-up?
  3. Would I have to leave home for University? Would this affect my decision? (It’s okay if it does!)
  4. What is my gut telling me?
  5. Do I need more time to pick the right course?

These are all good questions to ask because everyone’s situation and personality are different. Don’t let anyone else make the decision for you.

Having a plan, even if it’s vague, is important. As long as you understand your intentions and make sure you do something, then that’s okay. I felt more ready at the age of 19 leaving home (advice on that here!) than I would have at 18. And I’m glad I waited another year because the course I study now was brand new to the year I began! Have confidence in your decision.

Final thoughts:

Taking the gap year helped me realise that further education was what I really wanted. Because of the time I spent working, I was able to save up enough money to move to Bristol in the July, which was wonderful.

Take what those around you say with a pinch of salt and trust that you know yourself best. I do not regret taking a gap year and am enjoying my university experience.

What’s on your mind?

Are you thinking about taking a gap year? What do you plan to do? Leave a comment below!


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4 thoughts on “ The Benefits of Gap Years | Why You Might Like to Take One Before Going Straight to University ”

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