If you finished school or college this year and are anxiously waiting your exam results, keep in mind that if it doesn’t go to plan, you don’t need to panic that your life is over. In fact, if you get unexpected exam results then this next year could be one of the best of your life…
Think differently, think Gap Year
If you end up with unexpected exam results and as a result you don’t get your place in your first choice university or any university at all, there’s a whole host of ways you can still make this year count. Sit down, make a plan and find a way to use your time well.
The process starts with thinking differently – this is an opportunity not an ending. Setting yourself goals for the next 12 months makes sure that you stay on track and don’t get sucked into wasting your time at home. Start looking at your options for a Gap Year and think carefully about which activities are right for you.
Nottingham University has the following advice for students: “Whatever taking time out means for you, focus on your motives and the potential benefits.”
A Gap Year with an end game
A Gap Year can be a break and a change from your normal routine but it’s not just a standard holiday. Choosing the right Gap Year can open up a whole host of new opportunities for you, as long as you are taking it for the right reasons. That means having your ideal degree subject or career in mind and setting yourself challenges for how to get there by the end of the year, including maintaining and building on the skills relevant to your subject choice. Most universities support students taking a Gap Year as long as you can prove that you have used your time productively, and may overlook those unexpected exam results. Time management is everything.
Our Gap Year programs are all based on experiences that can have an enormous impact on you as a person, as well as your university and job applications. Every hour of the day you will experience something new, improving your top skills, supplementing your unexpected exam results and learning even more, usually without even realising you’re doing it.
What can a Gap Year do for your future?
When you are applying for jobs and university places, it is not enough to just have the formal exam results and qualifications anymore, you need to be able to show that you are a well-rounded person with a range of interests and skills. A Gap Year where you gain real world experience, including teaching in a school, living in a new place, and being self-sufficient can make a massive difference to your CV and university application, particularly if you had unexpected exam results.
Think about the skills you need most in the workplace: teamwork, leadership abilities, problem solving, good communication, perseverance and motivation. Now think about six weeks in Nepal or Kenya or the mountains of North India. Think about waking each day and hearing the sounds of the village, greeting your neighbours and shopping in the local markets. Think about walking to school and standing in front of a class of children, teaching lessons and giving them a unique opportunity to learn with one-to-one help. Think about travelling around the country in your free time, learning the secrets of the landscape and its people. There is no substitute for living your life and the people reading your cover letter or statement appreciate this, now more than ever.
Do Gap Year students get better exam results?
There is a host of research that shows that students who have taken a Gap Year actually perform better at university and get better exam results. The New York Times describes how “Many colleges now endorse the gap year, including Harvard, which ‘encourages admitted students to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work or spend time in another meaningful way.’”
The University of Edinburgh also supports students taking a Gap Year to improve their job applications stating that “Many employers will regard this experience favourably (providing you can prove how you have gained some good experience and developed skills useful to a work environment).”
Students going to university after a Gap Year are usually more ready to learn and more mature. As a result, “gap year students are more likely to graduate with a First or Upper Second class honours degree than those who went straight to university, as 66% of students take their academic work more seriously after having a year out,” according to the Huffington post. The experiences gained from a year abroad can change your outlook and make you appreciate what you have, helping you to focus and dedicate time to studying, getting you better exam results at the end.
Universities often have tips on applications from students who have taken a Gap Year on their websites, with advice on how to include it in your personal statement. Different universities look for different things so it is worth checking out the advice from your top choices to ensure your unexpected exam results don’t hold you back and your Gap Year can really stand out.
Still not sure? Ask a Gap Year expert
You probably have a lot of questions about what your options are regardless of your exam results, and which Gap Year is right for you. Even details like how long the program should be and what kind of volunteering you can do can seem confusing at this stage. AV offers a free Gap Year advice service with no obligation to book through us. We believe that every student should have the opportunity to take a Gap Year that is meaningful and we aim to help as many people as possible to find the Gap Year program that is perfect for them.
A Gap Year is a chance to see the world differently and to be seen differently by employers, universities and friends when you return home. You can take responsibility for your future by being proactive and grasping the opportunities in front of you, whatever your unexpected exam results may be.