Clearing isn’t for everyone. If you haven’t got into your first or second choice uni, one alternative is to take a gap year and re-apply for the following year. This is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Filling in all those forms again is a pain, and you’ll have to be available for interviews etc, which can restrict your travel plans. But you may find that your gap year could make a big difference to how universities treat you…
Sophie Hartley writes…
“Originally I applied to universities to study psychology. It was more a case of knowing that I wanted a degree, but having no desire to do any particular subject, and psychology seemed interesting. One of my six university choices was Durham, the place I really wanted to go. I was, however, rejected.
I had been considering deferring entry and taking a gap year, but left my options open by not stating this on my UCAS form. However, once rejected from Durham, and my second choice, Nottingham, my mind was made up that I should take a gap year. I did however accept a place at Lancaster University for the following year, as an ‘insurance’ really.
I had an amazing gap year teaching English in Slovakia and backpacking around Eastern Europe, the US and Ireland. While on my gap placement I realised that I did not want to study psychology at all – in fact law appealed much more. In truth I had rushed my original UCAS application as the deadlines loomed, and hadn’t considered the options available to me.
I returned from travelling in April, the UCAS deadline for applications having passed four months earlier. It is still possible to apply, but one theoretically stands a far lesser chance of acceptance, because universities are under no obligation to even consider your application.
“To reapply I had to reject my place at Lancaster. This was an anxious time as I realised I could be left with no university place at all if everywhere refused me, however with good grades at A level I hoped at least one institution would offer me a place. I was delighted to get unconditional offers from five out of six applications, but was most shocked by my acceptance at Durham University, who had rejected me the previous year.
The difference between my two applications in the two years was my gap year. I had lived and worked in a deprived area of a foreign country and been faced with numerous challenges and experiences which my life as a sixth former could not have given me . I also had ‘actual’ A level grades as opposed to just predictions, which shows admissions tutor exactly what standard I was, and they therefore felt more comfortable giving offers.
Indeed, I found that my gap year gave me numerous advantages through my uni years. I managed to get on a really good internment placement (work experience that you have to do before you final year). Law is an extraordinarily competitive career and placements with international city firms are immensely over-subscribed. I’m sure that the reason I got this position was because I had taken a gap year before university.
Re-application required a leap of faith, but it certainly paid off for me.”