At the beginning of year thirteen I wrote a blog describing my trepidation as I embarked upon the stressful journey of UCAS. After much woe, and bombarding a few poor souls with far too many drafts, I wrote a personal statement, following which I made my selection of universities and sent the whole thing off. Then came the nail-biting wait for decisions to be made and the constant refresh of the UCAS Track page, which to those unfamiliar with the workings of the process, is the page through which university decisions are declared. Yet, despite the path having unquestionably always been school then university, sixth form had left me uncertain of whether this was the path best suited to me, or whether it was simply the path well-trodden. Honestly, the truth was I had never considered anything else. There had been no question of other possibilities, the prospects of which I had never troubled to discover. Yet I knew that unlike many of my friends who were desperate to start university immediately, I felt that the time after school afforded the best opportunity to, and I recognise the gap year cliché, try something different.
Therefore, like any child of the twenty-first century, I googled "gap year" in the hope of demystifying the whole concept. Indeed, my impression of "taking a year out" was ranged from the boring (bumming around all year with no purpose) to the wild (hopping from continent to continent), both of which were belied by the negative connotations of the term captured in that infamous YouTube video. However, as I trawled through website after website it became clear that all represented experiences of various students. Indeed, the possibilities of what to do are endless and undoubtedly daunting - not to mention expensive depending upon the chosen activity, for example, to embark upon a three week charity project in Africa could easily set you back three grand. Yet, as I further researched the prospect and read other students' accounts of their experiences and advice my decision became clearer and clearer. For me, the choice to study English literature at university remains concrete, but the opportunity to spend a year without the restrictions of student debt or the pressure to find a graduate job is fleeting.
However, this was not a simple decision to make, other concerns had to be taken into consideration, not only the more obvious question of how to spend my time but also whether or not I would feel regret once my friends began to leave for university. The latter may sound like a trivial worry, but trying to project my emotions in advance proved informative as to how I considered a gap year; would it be worthwhile in comparison to spending a year at university? Undoubtedly I would miss seeing friends constantly and perhaps envy their freshers weeks, but as to the actual learning part? No, not really. Not because I do not wish to learn, or that I felt I needed some sort of "break", rather, I wanted the opportunity to learn elsewhere, or learn something that would not be taught in the lecture theatre. So that when I do finally enter that room next autumn, I am enthused by the prospect of university and truly excited to be there.