What to say to a Uni?

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What to say to a Uni?


I am still planning my gap and applying to uni. What can i can say to a uni to ensure my gap is well recieved, rather than just looked upon as a holiday / waste of time (As my parents currently think of it).

I plan to work, travel and volunteer (not sure what yet ... conservation (Frontier) maybe) using a RTW ticket.

Should I discuss it in my personal statement or else where?

Any tips welcome!



Heya! yup, definitely mention it in your personal statement, saying things about how it will change your perception of the world, give greater maturity and try to tie it in to the subject you doing (e.g. if doing history, say you’d be interested in travelling to places like Vietnam or seeing the places that battles/important events took place.) Make sure if you are planning on volunteering you mention that as it shows ur a v.nice person :D and unis would think of the possibility of you maybe volunteering/setting up clubs when at uni so it shows that you are the type of person that they’re looking for.

From my limited experience, no gap year is a waste of time, whether you work, travel, or just stay at home - you learn about the world of work -I can’t wait to get to uni after having done a 9 to 5 for a few months- and generally get more mature! I’ve changed so much this year, I met up with some old schoolmates and they hardly knew me! :?

I think it’s a bit of a common misconception that uni’s don’t like gap years. I’m starting at Cambridge in October and they positively encourage them. My friend was given a deffered place (which she hadn’t requested)  purely to make her take a gap year as they thought she needed to experience a bit more of life!

So to stop my waffling, I would basically say to donate about a paragraph to your gap year, mentioning what you will get out of it (any skills learnt, knowledge of the world, maturity, greater depth of understanding of subject), emphasise that you will be working to pay for it (showing knowledge of finances, working for what you want to achieve, commitment, determination etc and also mention maybe that you hope to get a job looking at the career you want to go into after uni -forward planning, career prospects etc - it ticks all the boxes for uni’s wanting to have high league tables of graduates getting jobs after your course) majorly mention volunteering (even if your plans aren’t concrete, it might be worth making out that they are a lot more organised than they are, you can always change plans and I doubt that when you start uni they will demand details of the placement and kick you out if you didn’t do it!!)

Hope that incoherent ramble helps! I’ve done personal statements twice so any questions on them just PM me!
Take care, Cat x

Avatar for Andy--U

Total Posts: 673

Joined 2001-12-31

Wow I think that answer pretty much covered everything anyway, the one thing I’d say to do is sound organised, I think most admissions tutors now appreciate how useful a bit of time off is and the maturity travelling can bring even if it is just travel and not a placement or anything. You need to convince them you know what you’re doing and you’ve been planning it for ages rather than you just want a bit of a holiday from learning. Leave a good paragraph to explain your plans but don’t let it take over your personnal statement
  As Cat said mention the placement even if you’re not certain if you’re doing it yet, they won’t care if you later change your mind. Try and cover what you will be doing over the whole year, don’t leave gaps, or they might assume things.


cattikins said basically everything!
honestly i wouldn’t worry at all, the vast majority of unis think gap years are perfectly acceptable, if its any help i know for certain that edinburgh, manchester, leeds and sussex are if anything very supportive and interested in gap years. def put it in your personal statement and say a little about all the good it will do you as a person :D it’ll be fine, dont worry! and good luck!

Avatar for Jessibug

Total Posts: 1573

Joined 2001-12-31

Universities tend to encourage gapyears, unless you are doing a subject like maths. I have found that they are discouraged for mathematicians for the reason that you will drop out of practise with your subject. Same applies if you want to study a language. The universities would like to see evidence that you are making an effort to keep up with your subject and aren’t too rusty before you get there.

Avatar for jogn

Total Posts: 2483

Joined 2003-03-30

Unless of course you are studying a language and going to work or live in a country where you will get a lot of practice.


With the whole top up fees issue going on I was anxious to be applying for deferred entry and worried it might have worked against me. However, in my personal statement I did talk about what I thought I’d end up doing (bearing in mind you’ll probably change your plans anyway, you’ve plenty of time to do so) and in the end it all worked out fine, I got 6 offers!

So I think as long as you discuss it maturely and show a real desire to study a subject it shouldn’t really work against you, unless perhaps it is something like maths. Applying for a languages-based degree was no problem for me, but then again it might be one of the more obscure ones… anyway!

Good luck smile


Cheers everyone.

Really helpful.


Avatar for Tridgers

Total Posts: 1

Joined 2010-06-28

hi everyone

from a few uni’s (i.e Southampton, Bristol and LSE) they say that deferred entry places are limited.

Do you think this means that the chance of me getting a place will be reduced? (as i plan on taking a gap year travelling)

Thanks alot

Avatar for Aefaef

Total Posts: 797

Joined 2008-04-02

Universities tend to encourage gapyears, unless you are doing a subject like maths. I have found that they are discouraged for mathematicians for the reason that you will drop out of practise with your subject.

Funnily enough my Uni practically begged all us maths students to defer - may have something to do with the fact they were over-subscribed to the extent that they couldn’t fit everyone in the lecture theatres for core courses. (Knock-on effect of Cambridge changing its entry process, apparently…wink

If you’re concerned that you might be less likely to get a place if you say you want to defer, give the admissions office(s) a call and ask what the situation is. It may just be a CYA term in case they get too many people wanting to defer.