How risky are gap years?

(58 Posts)
Whitlandcarm Fri 01-Sep-17 00:41:16

Dd really wants to take a last minute gap year. She did very well but not amazingly at a level.

Her current course asked AAA which she would be happy to go to. But the entry requirements for that course are A*AA/AAA.
She would be applying again for History///archaeology at one.

For gcse she got A*/A
A levels AAAA

From a low performing state comp.

She would apply to


Do we advise her to stick or twist?confused

OP’s posts: |
Becca19962014 Fri 01-Sep-17 00:47:45

What does she want to do with a gap year exactly? That can have a huge bearing on how 'risky' it may or may not be.
Does she have a current offer? Offers change from year to year.

Honestly she needs to look at why she wants to do a gap year and exactly what she's going to do with it. How will it help her with her career, if at all?

Ttbb Fri 01-Sep-17 00:52:30

If she's doing one of those subjects it's really go big or go home, unless she intends to become a high school teacher. what exactly had she been offered?

Becca19962014 Fri 01-Sep-17 00:59:19

(Just to point out I know very little about those subjects - literally my only experience here is with gap years within a totally different subject!)

RedHelenB Fri 01-Sep-17 07:29:25

If she's not happy with the uni she got in definitely take a gap year. Best thing I did, it helped me be independent and that year away from study was good. I had an interview at Oxford too, after my results which involved an overnight stay and was very enjoyable.

bluerememberedhills23 Fri 01-Sep-17 07:40:32

At my uni (a UK top 5) gap years were exceedingly common. I felt slightly out of it not having done one!

However people spend them travelling/volunteering/doing a ski season. So unless something 'constructive' expensive is going to be done with it I would think twice.

I didn't know anyone who took a gap year to resit their A levels at my uni, but one of my friends did and went to a Russell Group and got the best result in her year after receiving disappointing A level results first time round.

Bluntness100 Fri 01-Sep-17 07:46:28

I think it depends on what you do with the year. My daughter, entering her final year at a top rg uni, tells me if you have a place and defer it, then its fine. If you apply for a place after the year, some universities can be a bit funny about it, particularly the better ones, and want to know how you spent the year Ie was it productive and want it laid out for them.

So I think it's risky is she does it and farts about for a year and wants a top uni. If she does it and does something constructive with the time, it's not risky, or if she doesn't care where she goes.


BigGreenOlives Fri 01-Sep-17 07:56:07

Lots of my daughter's friends reapplied after results, some are going to Oxford or Cambridge this year. Another is going to UCL. I think the standard offer for history at Bristol is A*AA but if she went to a low progression school she should receive a contextual offer. Oxford would need her to do the HAT in early November but their standard history offer is AAA so she would be fine. Go for it! She has nothing to lose. If she spends this term working and applying (Oxford UCAS application needs to be in by mid October) she can do something exciting in the spring/summer. Kings London has really good opportunities for overseas years, making it a 4 year course (friend's daughter has gone to Berkeley, another friend's daughter went to North Carolina Chapel Hill & because they are low income everything apart from her flights was paid for!).

allegretto Fri 01-Sep-17 08:01:19

Bear in mind she still might not get in. I took a gap year to reapply to Cambridge and got the higest marks available at the time. Still didn't get in! I was very crap at interviews My school had no idea about the application process though and this was preinternet. I hope things are better now and she actually has someone advising her on the selection process.

annandale Fri 01-Sep-17 08:08:57

If she spent the year doing something like working on a dig or at a museum or relevant charity, she would only have more to say at an interview. Plus more to offer when she eventually goes for jobs. I think consider whether you would be prepared to support her financially if she lands a full time volunteering role.

Oblomov17 Fri 01-Sep-17 08:30:08

How will it help her with her career, if at all?

Ahh, I don't see it that way. I think they are brilliant, for people to age and grow up. To get more perspective. To just travel. And laugh. And relax.

Mind you, that's if you'd been planning for a while and saved a bit of money.

Her's is more a reaction to her grades, I guess?

LoniceraJaponica Fri 01-Sep-17 09:11:03

You don't think 4 As at A level is amazing? hmm

user7214743615 Fri 01-Sep-17 09:25:13

4 As at A level is amazing

When I went to university 20 years ago, 4 As was enough to make you a strong candidate for Oxbridge.

Now there are A star grades and the numbers of students getting As and A stars is much larger. 4 As will get you into many very good courses, but some courses require an A star in at least one subject. The average grades of incoming students to courses such as Maths at Cambridge are 3 A stars and 1 A.

So 4s is great, but it's not amazing in the sense of getting you into anything.

Bnanda Fri 01-Sep-17 09:27:22

4 As at A level, even today hmm is amazing. Ignore anyone, even your dd, who says it isn't. If she wants a gap year let her take one. She will get into an excellent uni somewhere.

Bnanda Fri 01-Sep-17 09:28:55

I am not talking about Cambridge or Oxford BTW.

Tbh, any uni that insists you don't take a gap year and flounces over it can fuck right off (Edinburgh I'm looking at you grin)

Bnanda Fri 01-Sep-17 09:29:48

So 4s is great, but it's not amazing in the sense of getting you into anything.

Sometimes I wonder if mumsnetters live on the same planet as me.

BigGreenOlives Fri 01-Sep-17 11:19:24

The percentage of candidates getting A* at maths is quite high though isn't it User, and then they'll probably do FM & Physics which require similar skills/knowledge base. Iirc Oxford offers lower but fewer offers, Cambridge more but higher grade requirements.

4As from a low achieving comp where there might have been multiple teacher changes is v gd. From a grammar school or leading independent still v gd but less exceptional.

LoniceraJaponica Fri 01-Sep-17 11:21:57

Exactly Bnanda

user7214743615 Fri 01-Sep-17 11:28:26

It's a basic fact that some of the top university courses do require an A star - so I don't think people on MN are living on other planets.

Bluntness100 Fri 01-Sep-17 11:28:30

I'd agree, four As is an excellent result and more than enough to get you into every uni there is. However oxbridge is different and much is also dependent on the interview . They did a presentation at my daughters school to encourage applicants and they have a very specific way of teaching that is not for everyone and they are cognizent of that fact at interview.

They encourage for example, independent thinkers and will pose candidates questions to watch how they think through and work out the solution.

You should be very proud of your daughter, she has done tremendously well and don't listen to anyone say her results aren't amazing. She's in the top echelons of achievers in the country.

As said, if she is going to twist, she should do so with a solid plan for the year and not just fart about playing PlayStation and working a Saturday job.

Marmenteum Fri 01-Sep-17 11:29:48

"It's a basic fact that some of the top university courses do require an A star - so I don't think people on MN are living on other planets."

and most of them ended up in clearing this year! Unless you are only aiming for medicine at Cambridge!

goodbyestranger Fri 01-Sep-17 11:41:37

No, I don't think most of the A* courses ended up in clearing did they?

Lonicera, user615 tends to know what she's talking about at the high tariff universities since she's a Cambridge tutor (or certainly was last academic year, which is good enough smile).

LoniceraJaponica Fri 01-Sep-17 11:47:21

But I'm not talking about potential Oxbridge students here, but A levels in general.

If DD achieved 3 As at A level we would be thrilled. She got 2 As and 2 Bs at AS level so it is doable.

goodbyestranger Fri 01-Sep-17 12:01:25

OP is talking very specifically about Oxbridge, or at least Oxford.

Obviously the context of the school is very relevant in her DD's case.

moralberyll Fri 01-Sep-17 12:11:43

4 A's at A level isn't amazing? I must be living on another planet then.

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