How to Decide: To Go to College / University or Take a Gap Year
Every year when exam results are released and when people finish GCSE and A Level studies, this is a very stressful time and we get lots of e-mails from people wondering what to do next.
If you are have completed studies or are finishing school/college soon, and you are not sure what to do next why not consider a gap year instead of going to college / university.
Although we are slightly biased, we help lots of students and graduates take breaks abroad every year especially after exam results are released and we can't recommend this experience highly enough. Read on for tips to see whether a gap year is right for you...
If you got the results you wanted great, this is still a chance to take time out and deferring your entry till next year which will give you time to think if going to university is right for you. If you didn't get the results you were expecting don't despair! You can either go through clearing or consider take a gap year. In the UK with the increase in tuiton fees which are astromonically high have put many people off, but before jumping straight into full time employment considering planning a trip overseas with our website.
Also did you know you can now earn UCAS points during a gap year. In what can only be an acknowledgement of the importance of alternative forms of education and experience, the universities and colleges application service has linked with ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) to allow students opting for a gap year to use their experience to help get into university. In order to gain up to 70 points under the personal effectiveness category, you must have your volunteer project registered with ASDAN and then build a portfolio of your activities as proof of the skills you have acquired whilst on the project. Once these have been verified, you will qualify for a Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) level 3, with which you can claim your UCAS points!
Anna Davis, Education correspondent for the London Evening Standard, wrote that the CoPE is equivalent to getting an A at the AS level. The key is making sure the higher education institution (HEI) and course you’ve chosen will accept ASDAN certificate towards entry points. Currently there are 34 higher education institutions that will accept CoPE points. I expect the number of HEIs that will accept CoPE to rise in the few years given the rise in university fees and the push for students to couple formal education with practical skills and experience.
The CoPE-UCAS agreement is also welcome news for those planning to work and live abroad. This reinforces the need for early and thorough gap year planning. However, it is important to remember that not all HEIs accept CoPE and that for most courses a good grade in the specific AS will be the best way to achieve the required UCAS points. But Professor Alison Wolf, who led a government inquiry into education qualifications, said: “There is a danger that people will believe that universities will treat all points as equal and a terrible danger that the most vulnerable people will be misled and make choices they shouldn’t make.”
The gap year will give you the opportunity to explore the world, make a difference in another community, learn about yourself and gain useful work experience and skills that will transfer to either higher education or work…or both! If your preferred HEI isn’t currently accepting CoPE, don’t let that prevent you from missing out on a wonderful gap year experience. So, go on that gap year, make a difference and maybe earn some UCAS points! So what are you waiting for? Take a gap year, make a difference and earn UCAS points at the same time!