Written by Fleur N'Doye
BA (Hons) Media Production
I have always loved to travel. I love everything about it – the anticipation, the culture, the food and the sun. I think I was around 13 years old when I began saving to travel. I didn’t quite know when I was going or for how long, but travelling has always been a life long dream of mine.
When it came to college, I began playing with the idea of taking a gap year after my A-levels. I hadn’t fully decided whether I wanted to go to university so taking a gap year would give me enough time to make my decision. I had never been out of the EU so the idea of travelling internationally, exploring tropical islands with white sandy beaches, had more of an appeal to me than inter-railing around Europe. Thailand, Vietnam and Bali were my top places to visit. Being the eldest child, I had quite a few disagreements with my parents about taking a gap year. They were set on me going to university straight after college although I didn’t think I was ready for it. I had spent 13 years of my life in education; I felt that if I stayed in education any longer I would lose all motivation and interest.
During my final year at college, I visited various universities and decided I wanted to study at Bournemouth. I applied through UCAS and decided that if I received an offer, I would defer my entry and take a gap year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the results I needed meaning Bournemouth’s offer was withdrawn. I decided I could try and get in through Clearing, however upon speaking with AskBU, I was told I could not defer an offer made through Clearing. My choices were either to apply through Clearing and start Bournemouth in September or take a risk and re-apply the following year. If I re-applied, it might mean re-taking my Psychology exam (which I knew I probably wouldn’t pass!) and if I went through Clearing I would be a guinea-pig for the first Media Production course at BU. I really didn’t want to retake any exams, but at the same time I really didn’t want to be the first year group to experience a new course. I decided to take my chances and re-apply the following year and hope for the best… If I needed to retake then I would study hard and try and get the grade they were asking for.
The following December, I began my travelling adventure with my best friend around South East Asia. We aimed to travel for four months, so we’d be back in time for festival season. For a second time, I applied to study Media Production at Bournemouth while travelling around the Gilli islands in Bali. I really wouldn’t recommend applying for university abroad. The application process was slightly easier because I’d done it all before, however writing my personal statement on my iPhone was a nightmare. It was very time consuming and I relied heavily on my dad to make sure the layout stayed the same once I had uploaded it. You’ve also got to bear in mind that you may not have access to wifi and can’t guarantee whether it’ll be a strong connection.
Fast-forward to March, and Bournemouth offered me an unconditional offer to study in September. My risk paid off and I didn’t have to retake any exams (yay!).
Deciding whether to take a gap year is a big decision and there are many pros and cons to taking a year out. One thing my parents were really worried about is whether I would actually return to higher education and whether taking a year out would have an effect on my grades. Personally, I don’t think it has affected my grades – once you get back into a learning environment, everything falls back into place. Saying this, if you feel like you’re the sort of person that won’t want to return to education after a year out, then maybe going straight to university is for you. Do consider the industry you want to be in and how taking a gap year will reflect on you – are you expected to go into the industry straight after university or can you get away with taking a year out after university?
You can make a gap year suit you. You could spend that year saving up money to study at university, to travel, to do work experience – anything you want! Just spend your time wisely as you rarely get a chance to take a year out without any questions being asked. If you’re set on going to university and travelling consider the following:
- Deferring your entry
- A university that allows you to study/work abroad
- A university that has cultural exchange programmes
Taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I’ve made, but they’re not for everyone! Consider all the pros and cons of taking a year out and assess whether it’ll suit you. I worked for the majority of mine, but also travelled and went to various festivals. This might not sound appealing to you so consider what you would do on your gap year.