Katherine Gomes decided to take a year out before heading off to university. She explains why she made the choices she did and how her year has worked out so far

What made you take a year out before starting university?

A lot of people consider there to be a stigma regarding Gap Years – that Universities frown upon students that don’t immediately prioritise academia and will favour those that have. However it’s simply not true! I believe that I have had the same opportunities as those who went straight to uni and it’s even favourable in some respects as I already have my grades.

I think there’s a lot of pressure for students at school – it’s drilled into you that there’s one route to take, i.e. you get your GCSEs to get your A Levels to then get your degree at uni. When it came to writing a personal statement I kept putting it off for lack of knowing what subject I wanted to do and where I wanted to go, and when I realised that’s why I had been procrastinating, I knew a year out was the right choice for me. I definitely think it’s worth having extra time to make the right decision rather than plumping for the wrong choice for the sake of it.

What did you do for your year?

I’d like to say it was non stop travelling but, alas, the reality is more full time work. However I far from resent that – I do love my job. I have been working as a sales assistant at Levi’s Ashford Outlet and, although this doesn’t immediately relate to what I’ll be studying at uni, I value having the experience of what life will be like in a permanent position in the workplace once I have my degree. It has also shown me that, as much as I love my job, I am ready to go back into education rather than starting a career. I have ultimately been saving to travel, and in June I will be doing exactly that! I will be jetting off to Peru to climb Machu Picchu and I could not be more excited.

Why did you make the decision to travel?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, really. Simply put, there’s a big wide world out there and I haven’t seen enough of it. Plus, I’m a firm believer that travel broadens our understanding of culture in a way academia or a classroom cannot.

What will you be going on to study?

English with Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. A decision I don’t think I would have made if I hadn’t taken my year out.

What advice would you give to someone looking to work for a year before starting university?

I would say get the best grades you can and if you’re not sure what the next step for you is then a year out is the way to go. Although, I don’t think a year of solely working should be how it’s done. Yes, it’s all good experience and it’s money for university or to kick-start your independence, but I think there’s so much that can be done in a year apart from working, so make use of that time! Whether it’s volunteering, travelling or perhaps landing work in a field related to a career you’d like to pursue one day. After all, it’s about getting your foot in the door, and universities are looking for that drive and initiative to make of the world what you please, so show them you have it.

Fergus Doyle took a year out to study abroad after his second year of a degree course in English and American Literature at University of Kent. He is currently writing his final year dissertation


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