To defer or not to defer: what should you do?

There may be many reasons (or only one) for why you are deferring entry to your course or thinking about it, reasons that can range from wanting some time off to deal with family issues or just wanting to travel. There were some fantastic aspects of my year out, and some not so fantastic. But, given a chance, I would do it all over again. Here are a few pros and cons to consider when deferring your course and taking a gap year.


Pros

  • You have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, be it through an internship, part-time job, or even new hobbies. This will fill out your CV and cover letters and can help you decide what you want to do with life (or what you don’t). Be it through waitressing, camp counselling in the USA, saving turtles in Fiji – or, like me, standing behind a till, at Debenhams – the skills you pick up will carry you through the rest of your life.
  • If you choose to embrace the world of work or the world of travel on your gap year, you will gain the valuable skill of ‘adulting.’ Increased responsibility and independence will help you to mature and grow up. A year can change a lot in your state of mind and perception.
  • Spending an increased amount of time by yourself, something you won’t often find at uni, allows you to learn a lot about yourself and will help you increase your comfort with yourself and your confidence. It can give you focus, time to grow up and figure out what your aims and values are and what it is you want to do with your life.
  • Deferring your course for extra year will also grant you extra thinking time, particularly if you haven’t gotten onto the course you wanted. It will give you a chance to regroup, revise, adapt, and overcome.
  • Uni is expensive and spending some time working will help you save those extra pennies as well as give you financial independence and the opportunity to do some travelling before, during, and after uni. Also, note that those interest-free overdrafts must be paid back at some point!

Cons

  • You may find yourself losing academic momentum. After twelve years of studying, having a year out can cause you to lose touch with that way of thinking when travelling and working in the ‘real world’.
  • You may find yourself suddenly living in a house with people younger and less mature than you. You want to study and sleep, pursue internships and hobbies. They have pre’s going on until 6 am. Certain “he said” “she said” conversations are less relatable, which can make the forming and maintaining of these new relationships difficult. I was already a year older before my deferral. My gap year added another year. Once I was in a house, I realised that we were in different places in our lives.
  • It’s easy to get used to having nothing to do, and I mean zip, other than maybe some hoovering for your parents. It can be a difficult state to give up and takes a lot of motivation to get working.
  • There is always the temptation not to go and study after all. You may discover other options, apprenticeships or full-time work, that you want to pursue. While this can be both good and bad, not going to university can limit your employment opportunities later in life.
  • When it comes to scholarships and funding, some financial gifts are subject to no referral, as are some courses, so do your homework before deciding!

The key message to take from this if you’re considering a gap year is not to waste it! Or you will face a lot more cons than pros. Remember you can always defer halfway through your course (and don’t be concerned with how it will be on your return). Whatever happens, do it, make mistakes, learn.

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