If your plan for next year is university (or a higher education course via a college) then you’ve already submitted your application, right? If not, then get a move on. The UCAS deadline (January 15th) may be the official cut-off, but a lot of places will have been filled already. It’s like a queue: being at the back still means you’re in, but the good stuff might be taken by the time they see you.
Use the next 3 weeks to triple-check your 4-5 choices: do you know the course in miniscule details (contact hours, types of classes and assessments? Are you excited by the wider activities, clubs and facilities that place offers you? Would you want to go and live in that city if you weren’t studying? Are any specific needs you have met 100% by those five choices? Also, use this time to re-read (ten times over and over) your personal statement and ensure you’re happy for this to be your first impression of you to people who don’t know you and how amazing and passionate you are.
We know how fab you are, obvs, but that doesn’t mean they are holding a space specially for you. Get your application in before Christmas…as family at this time of year can be a blessing but also a curse. One of the PUSH team waxes lyrical about how his entire family cornered him (on Christmas day no less) and interrogated him about his post-18 choice, trying to re-write his UCAS application in the process. Talk about festive cheer: like Santa wedging himself down a chimney: that is pressure you don’t need.
You may have already decided that higher education isn’t the right path for you in Autumn 2019, but you’ll give it a go in 2020. If that’s the case, don’t let your gap year go by in the blink of an eye leaving you feeling unfulfilled and still not ready for uni. Use it to your advantage…
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Make a plan — Whether you’re hoping, in true Inbetweeners style, to go travelling, or you want to use the year to get a bit of work experience, it’s more likely to go to plan if you've got a plan. Just the basics.
For example, if you're travelling an hour-by-hour itinerary is going too far, but things like connecting flights, accommodation and insurance should be on your list of need-to-knows.
According to the organisers of the Annual Gap Year Safety Conference, one in three gap year trips are cut short by accidents or crimes. Having a plan in place doesn’t guarantee you won’t have any bumps, but it may mean they don't send you off the road.
Don’t follow the crowd — everyone else might be working turning their part-time job in the chippie into full-time or skydiving on the East coast of Australia, but that doesn’t mean you should too. A gap year is all about your own self-development and taking a breather from studies to go out of your comfort zone and do 2 things: build soft skills employers crave and networking with new people (who may be able to offer you jobs in the future). It is one of the few chances you’ll get in life to do your things your way, so don’t ever do things the way others want it done.
LUCY HARDING is the Editorial manager for Push. She is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach.
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