Gap year

(23 Posts)
C4T5 Thu 15-Mar-18 08:41:31

DD, a relatively high achiever, received all 5 offers from excellent universities that she liked on the open days. She chose her firm (which she loves) and her insurance on UCAS last week. Received a lovely letter from the head of admissions from her firm, welcoming her etc etc. At the end of the letter, the head of admissions wrote that if DD wants to do a gap year, she should let them know by end July if possible. DD initially hadn’t considered doing a gap year, but having read that, she now wants to do one! Not sure what to think really. Have any of your DCs done one? Is it a good idea?

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Needmoresleep Thu 15-Mar-18 08:57:08

DD decided at Easter that she wanted to defer and take a year out. I was keen that she did not fritter the time away, as some of her friends did.

She did cookery course (plus then interned at the cookery school, essentially being there through a range of courses in exchange for prepping and washing up), a ski season (Crystal and workaseason are a couple that take unqualified inexperienced 18 year olds), then Camp America with a bit of travelling after.

It was effectively self funding. It was also a chance to do something non academic, albeit hard work, live away from home, meet new people and generally grow up. It made starting university easier in that others were having to do this at the same time as starting challenging courses. She had a ball and would do it again.

Interestingly when she mentioned the ski season to people my age, eyes would glaze. These seem to be memories that stay with you. Though DD claims she will never eat beef bourbignon again.

C4T5 Thu 15-Mar-18 09:07:37

It made starting university easier in that others were having to do this at the same time as starting challenging courses.

That’s what I would hope for DD smile She currently lacks confidence.

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C4T5 Thu 15-Mar-18 09:12:37

I worry though, that because of her lack of confidence, she won’t make the most of her gap year because she won’t put herself forward for things.

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Willowthewasp Thu 15-Mar-18 09:16:13

It's a great idea, lots of people go straight into work after finishing a degree and then get tied by the job, house etc. It is a wonderful opportunity. Unless she ends up enjoying it so much she takes 5 years out like I did grin

quartermooninatencenttown Thu 15-Mar-18 09:16:37

Great idea if it helps develop confidence and independence; will potentially really help with first year uni. Needmoresleep- sounds like a brilliant year!

teta Thu 15-Mar-18 09:37:33

Dd1 is currently on a gap year. It was a bit of an enforced one due to a A level retake. Having spent most of the summer on holiday and having applied for a course where she needed masses of volunteering experience. She had no experience of doing a paid job. Dd started off working in a local shop and was thrilled to actually be paid for some work. Decided she really liked earning money and applied for several jobs via Indeed. Dd is now working for a British institution and they will keep the job open for her in the holidays. She has markedly grown up , learned to present herself in interviews and realised she is actually really good at her job. The only downside is that she can’t travel in July/August as that is their busiest time.
Having initially been really against a gap year I think I will now persuade all my children to have one.


user1469682920 Thu 15-Mar-18 09:43:42

My DD has also taken a gap year and on paper it may look like she has, 'frittered it away' but actually she was exhausted after gcse's, a levels, Oxbridge entry, mountains of extra curricular and all the stress that comes with all those. She is a different person now and I feel confident that she will also start uni better prepared than going in straight after results but perhaps for different reasons. I think Gap years can be great for a host of reasons as long as you know why you are doing it

C4T5 Thu 15-Mar-18 09:58:39

Okay, so far only positive stories of gap years, which is great to hear.

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Needmoresleep Thu 15-Mar-18 10:02:10

The ski season was good for that. She worked for a family ski firm in a smallish resort. 70 in total, mainly 18 years old, and from all sorts of backgrounds. A couple going to Oxford as well as a full range of other Universities, but also NEETs, people at catering college, nannies etc. And from all over the country, but state and private. What mattered was being able to pull your weight (DD had a 3.00am start on change over day and did not finish till midnight), get on with others and guests, and make the most of being in the Alps. It was very tough but the confidence that came from knowing she could get through it, plus the people and time management skills, will be invaluable. She and her friends thrived mainly because they supported each other. If she did it again she would avoid a family firm as children's lunches and teas added to an already heavy workload though the quieter resort and the large staff numbers were plusses.

Lifeaback Thu 15-Mar-18 10:03:48

People seem to look down on gap years or 'gap yaaahs' as something that mummy and daddy fund and the children spend pissing around. I think they should get more credit- after uni she'll probably head straight into work, and it's nice to just have a bit of a break from life before that. If she's working hard for a levels, having a gap year will prevent her from getting to uni and burning out, and it gives her an extra year to be perfectly sure that she wants to do her chosen course- so many people get to uni and start having doubts because the whole process is so rushed. One of my biggest regrets was not doing a gap year because my parents shunned the idea, I think it would have been great for me and she should grab the opportunity by both hands.

quartermooninatencenttown Thu 15-Mar-18 10:36:58

With hindsight I would definitely have talked to DD about a gap year. The burn-out point is a good one and the skills gained from working are invaluable; self-confidence, time-management and basically working to earn your own money are so useful once they get to uni. A mix of skills gained through volunteering and paid work definitely helps with becoming more mature and able to make your own decisions. Have also seen the other side - taking a gap year and not doing anything means a missing year on a CV.

teta Thu 15-Mar-18 11:16:45

It was very important to me that Dd didn’t spend the time dossing about this year. I was only happy with her travelling if she earned her own money first.I literally don’t have the money to fund an empty year. Some very academic friends have not been brilliant at finding jobs. Practicality is sometimes a lot more useful than being academic in real life and is very under-rated. Dd was always pretty academic until last years result and was on an increasingly fast hamster wheel of loads of extra-curriculars, d of e,drama,music & work experience.
It’s been good for her to step back,take a breath and see what’s really important.

C4T5 Thu 15-Mar-18 11:32:11

DD is also on the hamster wheel at this stage. My thoughts initially were that the long summer break might be enough to rejuvenate her and she would then start university with a more positive outlook. She also recently had some bad experiences with friends and a boy who didn’t treat her very well. Her self esteem is now at rock bottom. I was hoping that university would be a fresh start away from certain people. If she takes a gap year, I don’t want her wallowing. I’d like her to say yes to new experience and become more assertive generally.

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ToesInWater Thu 15-Mar-18 11:32:52

DS has ended up with a half year gap - he applied for a Semester 2 intake (we're in Oz so end of July start). Tbh as a severely dyslexic kid who was a bit depressed during his last couple of years at school we were happy to let him have a bit of a breather especially as he did so much better in his exams than anyone expected, his Uni offer was a bit of a surprise. We had some holidays planned over Christmas/Summer and he has now got a part time job that he will hopefully be able to keep on through Uni. I think he could be more productive with his time tbh but it's not a big deal. Without. "Issues" my expectations would be different 😊

Dustylaw Thu 15-Mar-18 11:34:10

If anyone is thinking of a gap year then may be worth investigating Raleigh International (link above). Their ICS programmes are mainly funded by the U.K. government and hence a good option for those who are short on cash but want to do something worthwhile overseas.

I was initially sceptical about gap years but would now say they can be great provided it is what the student positively wants to do ie it’s not just what their friends are doing or seen as the thing to do. I don’t think it is necessary to have plans in place when you make the decision by the way.

Oratory1 Thu 15-Mar-18 12:15:38

I initially though the long summer break would be enough to recuperate but in reality due to the uncertainty of results and having to wait for results day to know what they're doing next it s not always a real break and they can't always look forward to where they are going next until its confirmed. A gap year has been the first real breathing space for a long time.

C4T5 Thu 15-Mar-18 12:41:27

Good point Oratory1. I forgot to factor in the stressful wait for exam results!

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choirmumoftwo Thu 15-Mar-18 23:59:23

DS was almost forced to take a gap year due to poor A level predictions. He decided to apply to uni once he had his grades which were much better than predicted so he could apply where he wanted, and has ended up with 5 firm offers.
We suggested that his gap year ideally had to be relevant and self funding and he's now 2/3 of the way through a gap year choral scholarship/school assistant post over 300 miles from home. He's earning, living independently in shared accommodation, working incredibly hard and having a great time while learning invaluable skills. So in my opinion, a well thought out gap year can be extremely positive. Good luck to your DD.

motherstongue Sat 17-Mar-18 23:08:26

DS took an enforced gap year due to a medical condition so needed to be near his consultant. For the 4 months he needed to attend hospital he took a part time job than worked night shift over Christmas at a supermarket to get a bit of money in the bank. He has managed to get a post with the Mission to Seafarers so he has done a course with them and is about to start practical work at our local docks. They plan to send him abroad once he has a bit of experience behind him on a paid basis then hopefully he will be posted to work on cruise liners in the med over the summer.

His gab year was not planned but what it did do was give him time to really think about what he really wanted to study for the next 3 years as he felt he had lost some of the joy he had of learning with the relentlessness of studying for his A levels. He has now decided on a different degree course as a consequence. It has been a really positive experience for him and I'm glad he had the opportunity.

eatyourveg Sun 18-Mar-18 10:35:42

ds 1 decided on a gap year the night before the A level results were out. He wasn't convinced he wanted to go to the uni he had chosen. His firm were happy to defer and he spent the year on a mix of working/internships and travelling. During the year he decided to apply to a more prestigious uni so withdrew his initial place and went to the better uni

ds3 decided on a gap year during the June half term before exams - he has ASD and a summer birthday so we had gone up to his firmed city to familiarise him with the place. He said he thought he was too young to be so far from home (>300 miles) but was adamant that he still loved the place. His uni were happy to defer and he spent the year working in his degree subject. All but one of his flatmates have had a gap year.

C4T5 Sun 18-Mar-18 11:10:05

All but one of his flatmates have had a gap year. That’s good to hear.

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TheRagingGirl Sun 18-Mar-18 19:24:53

Have any of your DCs done one? Is it a good idea?

Speaking as a university lecturer, I love it when my undergrads have taken a gap year. If they come back to full-time education after stepping off the production line from A Levels to university, then I know that they really want to be at university, and know why they're there.

I'd encourage her to go for it - with a plan for earning money, gaining some life experience, and perhaps a bit of travel.

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