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I want to know about taking a year out

Taking a year out

Every year, people step off the conveyor belt of education, training or work - just to spend time away from their normal lives. Some young people delay, or defer, their entry to higher education. Others take a gap year after graduating, before starting work. You can take a career break at any time in your life!

Why take time out?

To develop in maturity and confidence: trying new experiences, taking responsibility for your own finances, organising your time, making new friends and meeting people from different backgrounds all help to develop your independence and confidence.

To gain experience related to your intended career: this can be helpful for entry to relevant courses or training and may be essential for certain programmes, such as social work. There are opportunities to spend time gaining some 'real life' work experience in a range of settings, including in commerce or industry.

To earn money: you might want to save money to fund your time at university, buy a car, or start up your own business, for example.

To think things through: are you unsure about your long-term goals, or undecided whether university is for you? Trying various types of voluntary or paid work can help you work things out. If you choose to postpone entry to work, training or university (as opposed to arranging a definite, deferred-entry place) be careful not to miss application closing dates.

To give yourself breathing space: you may want a break before settling into work or starting a course. Many people who have studied or worked for years, dream of taking time out to 'recharge their batteries' and gain a new perspective on life.

To fulfill some ambitions: perhaps you have always wanted to travel, spend time on an environmental project or have a working holiday? You could develop underused talents, undertake a new challenge, give something back to a community or just have an adventure.

Possible drawbacks

Be aware that time out can have an adverse effect on some people. You may find that your interests have moved away from the work responsibilities you previously held. Or, you may get out of the habit of studying - some skills and knowledge, particularly those related to maths and science, can get rusty.

What to do?

Voluntary work
A paid job
Travel abroad
Education or training

A year out before University??

Check the application procedures carefully. If you have already decided what course you want to do, you can apply for a deferred place - if you apply in your final year of A levels (or equivalent studies), the process can be completed before your year out. You need to outline well-thought-out plans to show admissions tutors that you intend to use the time constructively. Always check their views on taking a year out. Whether applying through UCAS, or directly, make it very clear that you are applying for deferred entry.

If you don't want to commit yourself to a course before taking time out, apply to UCAS a year later through the normal procedures. Remember that you will have to be contactable and able to attend interviews if necessary.