Don't Rush Into Higher Education

With results day, almost two weeks behind us, the majority of recent A-Level students have determined their next steps into education and work. Some will have sauntered into their first-choice university, others will have come out the other side of a scrap and many will be set on their path to professionalism. However, there is still plenty of time to decide on what it is you’re after. Although it may seem like everyone around you is sorted, and you’re left floundering around, that is not the case. People always like to give off an air of composure - very few people are anywhere near as ‘together’ as they outwardly seem. So, if you are feeling uncertain about your next steps, know that you’re certainly not alone and that it is okay to feel this way. 

The best thing that you can do is to fully assess all of your options. Having the hindsight of results day, with the facts, but hopefully a diluted array of surrounding emotions, it’s likely that you may be able to assess the situation with greater rationality. Maybe you’ve accepted a place, which you couldn’t even dream of securing. At the time, you may have been ecstatic, but now you’ve had some time and given it thought – something you never realised you’d have to do – you could have discovered that you don’t think it’s right for you. In a situation like this it can be difficult to wave goodbye to your university prospects, particularly if your family are so proud. 

But embarking on such a big life change, which you’re not sure of could be extremely miserable. Of course, nerves are a very normal part of leaving home and moving on, but if you think it could be something more, it really is worth taking some time out. 

Being anxious is natural at this junction of your life, but rushing into university without really wanting to go, often results in dropping out, after great struggle. What a waste of time and money, never mind it being a massive confidence killer.

Nevertheless, the world of professionalism, is also something that many 18 year olds are wishing to avoid. Your answer? Well, one could be to take a gap year.

A lot of people get to the summer after the end of their school career and realise that they don’t really know enough about their options. A- Levels are such a massive pressure and consume so much time that it’s a wonder people even manage to find a course that they’d like to do, read up on it, look around different universities and then apply. Taking a year out before moving onto higher education gives you the breathing space that you need. University is there to attend at any stage in your life so why the massive rush?

Getting a full time job buys you time to stop for a moment and really think about what you want to do with your life and what interests you as well as enabling you to save as much money as you can. It will also give you an idea of a new working environment and whether or not you are suited to it. Whilst working full-time for six months you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded or slightly older people who will give you a new angle on life and will be able to offer advice after going through it themselves. This means that you will be better informed when beginning your career.

For professional advice, the National Careers Service is a great resource. They will guide you through your options and point you towards a career that may suit your personal and professional goals. However, if university really isn’t for you then Not Going to Uni is another website to check out. It’s great to begin generating ideas of what you might like to do afterwards, during your gap year. This will give you some purpose and a sense of direction, as well as ensuring that your time out doesn’t become a ‘Gap Life’.

  Eleanor O’Donnell


Thu 31 Aug 2017