Myth Busting Gap Year Fears
Calm any concerns you have about taking a gap year with this advice from a University of York student.
Take the gap year! If you are umming and ahhing over whether to take a year off, I cannot recommend it enough. Don't worry about attending uni a year later than some people, I'm here to dispel any worries surrounding that!
I'm a second year Biology student at the University of York who always planned to take a gap year. It just so happened that I left school in March of 2020, so my gap year meant I avoided online learning — which was a plus! Unfortunately, it also meant that travelling wasn't really an option, so I spent my year working at my local supermarket, alongside some of my close friends — which brings me to worry number one:
1. Feeling lost when your home friends move to uni
It can be a bit weird watching your friends do IKEA shops and start connecting to their prospective roommates in the summer after leaving school. It's even weirder when they move, and you see them starting their new lives at university. You may feel your life is stagnant, while theirs is flowing forwards.
My advice is to fill up your life at home as much as possible, so you don't feel like you are missing out on anything by not being at university. It might be that you take up a hobby (I learned to crochet), take up a sport, or even start volunteering somewhere.
Joining sports teams, volunteering, and part-time jobs are great ways of meeting new people — uni isn't the only place to make new friends. Something I loved about my gap year was that I made friends with people in completely different stages of life to me through my work and netball team. This prevented any feelings of being replaced by home friends that are meeting new people at university because I was also meeting new people.
Also make sure to make lots of plans to look forward to! This could be by yourself or with some of those new (and old!) friends.
2. Making friends who have had similar experiences
While some of my closest friends from home also took gap years, I wasn't sure how many people I would meet at uni would have also taken time off. But I shouldn't have worried! When I first met my tutorial group for the first term, only one person had come straight from school out of a group of six.
Lots of the friends I've made at uni took at least one year off after school. I often didn't even realize this until we'd been friends for a while. It's far more common than you think. If you're really worried about not meeting people in a similar position, it's a good idea to make use of freshers group chats on social media. Just post a message asking if there are other people who took gap years. Many people will probably be feeling the same way as you, and you could even make plans to meet once you move to York.
3. Being older than your roommates
This is similar to the last concern and to be honest, it's one I really didn't have to worry about. I lived in a house of 20 in my first year, and almost half of my housemates were older than I was. Like I said, being an older student is way more common than you initially think!
Taking a gap year can actually be a brilliant way of bonding with some of your roommates when you first meet them. Just ask if anyone else took a gap year — even if no one did, it'll be a good conversation starter!
4. Adjusting to studying again
This was a big one for me. I was really worried that I would forget everything I'd learned about Biology in school and feel really behind other students. Inevitably, I did forget some things. But once I got into the swing of things, it all came back, and I remembered how much I loved learning about Biology.
My advice would be to stay up to date on your subject throughout your gap year. Read relevant articles every now and then, and maybe follow related Instagram pages. You don't need to memorise everything you read, but doing a bit of wider reading will make you feel more connected to your subject.
I hope this blog helped to get rid of some of the worries you might have about taking a gap year. Remember to enjoy yourself, and don't let fears about university ruin it, because most of those concerns won't even be applicable.
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