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A Level Results: clearing or a gap year?

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 16 / 08 / 2018

Gap Year Advice

Results day is upon us and first off a massive congratulations to you all for making it through your education!

As I’m sure some of you are aware, through the excitement and celebrations, it can be an extremely traumatic time with some big decisions to be made…

That’s why I’ve put together a few points to consider when tossing up the idea of whether to go into clearing or to take a gap year. Have a little read below and remember if you are struggling and need more tailored advice you can call me on 01672 519 922.

To start, there are two main options – delay university plans for a year and head on a gap year. Or, head into clearing and get a place on a different course or at a different university or both.

Gap Year Advantages

There are many reasons that students take a gap year but when you’ve had a curve ball hit you, such as not meeting the grades you were expecting, having time to consider, think and decide is key.

Buy yourself time

Rather than rushing the decision of your next step, where to go, what to do and how to do it. By choosing to take a gap year you give yourself the chance to think about what you want to do. Do you wish to resit? Reapply? Has not getting the grades actually made you question your choice of university all together?

All of these are valid questions and realistically trying to come up with your answers in a few days whilst fighting the competition of clearing is a tricky and rushed situation. If you’re going to be spending £9000 a year (fees alone), I would suggest rushing into a last-minute panic is not advisable.

Instead a gap year allows you to consider these over the next month or so and you can ensure the investment is going to good use and you have made the right choice for you.

A break from education

There are a number of factors that contribute to not getting the right grades. For a lot of students burn out and nerves can be a large contributor.

If you’ve not done as well as hoped you know why, but perhaps the best option is not to jump straight into more education but instead take some time away from academia to develop and challenge yourself.

Strengthen your application

You may choose to resit, you may choose to just reapply, either way taking a gap year can give you the chance to strengthen your application not just from an academic standpoint. A gap year offers the chance to challenge yourself, gain maturity and develop yours skill set; key qualities universities look for in candidates.

Intrigued? Read more about gap year benefits and how to structure a constructive gap year that universities and employers will love…

Convinced? Get exploring your gap year options

Not just for those that haven’t got the grades

Did you do better than planned? Maybe it’s a chance to reapply to those universities that were on your wishlist, or maybe you’ve got your place and deferring is now a possibility…

Gap Year Disadvantages

Yes this list is a little shorter than the advantages but it is worth mentioning some of the potential pitfalls in choosing a gap year

Certain Subjects are not suited to gap years

If you haven’t got the grades and you are hoping to study Maths or Physics then clearing may be the best way forward… many universities do not approve of the break in academia for these subjects.

Shake up to your plan

Did you mentally prepare yourself for university? It can be extremely hard to change your mentality from your plan of going straight to university to now deferring a year. If you think that this is too much of a ‘left-field’ move then clearing could be for you.

My top tip, do remember that sometimes ‘left-field’ is hard at the time but beneficial further down the road…

A Gap Year Takes A LOT of planning

Don’t think this is your ‘cop out’ answer and will allow you to bum for a year. You do that and your application weakens dramatically. It can be difficult to balance reapplying, resitting and a constructive gap year BUT if you are willing to take on the challenge then you will reap the benefits.

If you need a little help with all that planning and where to start, get in touch today and we can help steer and guide you to the perfect last-minute gap year.

Need Help? Get in touch

Now to look at your second option, clearing.

Clearing Advantages

For those still a little unsure on clearing – once you have your grades in hand, if you miss your first and second choice offers you can head into clearing to gain a place at university. Sometimes this will be at your choice university doing a different subject, sometimes it will be at a different university and it always means lots of phone calls to admission offices…

Guaranteed offers

There is no guarantee that the offers given by universities now will be the same for next year. Now that’s not to say they will be harder next year, who knows they may be easier. But what you are offered this year is on what you have and is a definite.

I’m sorry to say it, but that pretty much is the only advantage…so what about the drawbacks?

Clearing Disadvantages

Why pay £27000 for something that's not quite what you wanted

£27000 it’s a lot of money! Why would you then pay all of that for a course that isn’t your first choice, or a university that you’re not particularly keen on. You don’t have to go straight on and pay universities because you feel like there isn’t another option.

Why not spend a heap less on a year to travel, explore and adventure all ensuring that the investment of university will be worthwhile and not a last-minute panic.

It's very competitive

It’s a competitive place clearing and requires lots of calls to admissions office, waiting around, fighting for your place all for a place you didn’t necessarily dream of… it’s back to that investment. If you’re going to make the time to fight the competition, why not put that effort into your first-choice next year?

Clearing or a Gap Year?

So, there are a few pros and cons to consider following A-Level results. It’s not an easy path to navigate and it certainly, in my opinion, shouldn’t be rushed and decided on a whim. Take your time and work out which option is best for you.

And once you’ve made your decision crack open the Prosecco it’s time to celebrate…

Unsure what is right for you?

We are on the end of the phone to help advise and support you in making a decision that is right for you. Give us a call or drop us an email to pick our brains on your options.

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