The main reason I decided to take a gap yeah before going to uni was because I was clueless about what I wanted to do! I did actually apply for a degree course whilst I was still in college (I took the A-Level route) and I got accepted into virtually all the uni's I applied for. But if anything that put me off! It was almost too easy. It made me take a step back and think about what the actual course would lead to and through doing this I realised it wouldn't really lead to anything in particular, plus I was sure that I would be one of many with the same sort of degree. It all just seemed like a waste of time and money!
So, I decided to try the world of work. I carried on working part-time until I moved jobs when I was lucky enough to get a full-time position in basically the same street but a totally different sector (I know I'm not going into much detail, but I like to be careful that I'm not putting too much of my life online). This job had lots of training opportunities and although I definitely could have worked my way 'up the ladder' (that particular company even offered a degree opportunity), it just wasn't for me. I didn't really enjoy my time there at all, there was a mixture of factors that contributed to my decision, but the main reason was that I just wasn't that interested in that particular line of work. FYI - I didn't leave this job when I started university, I just went part-time.
Becoming a Student Again
This time when I was applying to go to university I was determined to pick a course that I knew would qualify me in a particular profession. My course also included a placement each year, which is something that I would advise all potential students to think about! Experience is usually essential when trying to get a job after all. It was also very difficult to get onto this course which was the total opposite to the course I had applied for previously. However, this also meant that I had to ensure that I completed lots of research, voluntary work and that I was prepared to be interviewed.
The interview From Hell!
Even though I felt that I had prepared sufficiently, one interview went terribly. I can hand on heart say that it was possibly the worst interview that I have ever experienced and even though that sounds dramatic due to my young age, I have experienced a fair few interviews in my time. I'm not going to go into much detail about it but they basically did not think I was suitable for the course. However, they had clearly made their minds up prior to even meeting me. Why I was offered an interview I'll never know?! Anyway, I'm the type of person that likes to make the most out of negative situations and therefore this only made me try harder to fight for a place at the next uni interview - And I got it! *HA*
Keeping Costs Down
As my university is a short train ride from my house, I decided to stay at home. Some people would argue that I haven't had the 'true' university experience, but I don't regret it one bit! It's each to their own I suppose. I had the luxury of partying whilst also having my home comforts. It worked for me and I still made good friends. As I also worked part-time to ensure that I always had spare cash for whatever I needed, if I had moved into the city centre then I would have had to leave this job, so it just didn't seem economical. Getting a part-time job can also be hard work when there are over three universities in one city!
My main tip would be enjoy it, three/four years fly's by and before you know it you'll be graduated and hunting for your 'grown-up' job. Apart from that I would also advise you to...
*Use your university library to your advantage.
*Don't leave your essays to last minute if you can't cope with writing a 3000 word essay under pressure/usually during the night before it's due - I can't!
*Don't be afraid to ask your tutor for help if your struggling.
*If you fail an assignment, reflect upon where you have gone wrong and learn from it.
*If you go on placement, try to get as much learning out of it as you can.
*Ask your friends for help! My course year had our own private Facebook page - so handy!
*If your unhappy with the course/essays/tutors or anything to doing with your university experience - Tell your course rep (who is usually a nominated student and therefore easy to confide in).
*Remember that all this hard work is to better yourself in life, try not to get too stressed.
and finally....enjoy all the time off that you well and truly deserve! and make sure you take advantage of your student discount, I definitely did :-)
I hope you liked this post, I may do a 'placement survival' post soon as I think that it would be very handy if you are thinking about or about to start a course that involves placements. They can be very challenging yet rewarding at time!