Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but you don’t have to go to uni this year

First published 19th August 2010

It’s A-level results day and I’m pretty sure college students will hear the question ‘did you get in?’ more times than the more deserving ‘congratulations’ throughout today.

My version of today came four years ago and I was nothing besides excited, not due to over-confidence about my results unfortunately but more due to the fact that for the last time my friends and I would be making that journey through the council estate and out of the other side into our college building for the last time. We’d simply pick up our results, check who got into where and promptly carry on out of the college and to the bus stop for a day of celebrations at the beach. It was a simply brilliant day, and mostly due to the fact that it was purely about college, not university. I can’t say the same for all of my friends, some got accepted onto courses they never thought they would, others were rejected from places they felt were safe, but for me results day was about my results. You may have guessed by now I didn’t go to university that September, and I’ve never been anything but glad I didn’t. I was offered a place I’d applied for, though the reason I’d applied in the first place never really materialised. Instead I took a year out to earn some money and decide what I really wanted to do. I’ve never been a quick decision maker and which degree to do and where wasn’t high up on the list of the easiest choices I’ve had to make, so I ended up with an offer I never really had any intention of taking up. Where am I going with this?

Many A-level students are going to have their hopes of getting onto their desired degree course dashed today, but thinking this is an entirely bad thing is going to be the first mistake of many. The government may be telling you to set up a business or do an apprenticeship instead, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to say think back to your busiest point during your A-levels, surely the thought to leave the pile of revision alone and do something all together more exciting was just a little bit tempting? Well now the hard work is over, why not reward yourself? A-level results are about congratulating yourself for your hard work, but a degree only brings more hard work. Doesn’t working at a elephant orphanage in Asia or swimming with wild dolphins in Australia sound just that little bit tempting? Or even just staying at home and working for a year to save up some money for the car nobody at university would be able to afford? There are a million ways to get funding for a gap year, especially if you fancy doing some voluntary work while you’re away. Trust me, travelling is the one experience that can knock university off it’s podium any day and the one that will give you the real life experience so many employers are now looking for. A sense of the world around you is invaluable, so go and explore it.

As for me? I went to university the next year, and you could too if you reapply with some added values about yourself you’ve gained in your gap year. I loved the university I went to and the city it was in, but these few years of your life are going to be purely about you and learning who you are. Like me the course you start of on may not be the course you finish with but if you take the time to consider what you want you’ll enjoy every minute of it. As for today, congratulations, you just got your A-level results! Now go and celebrate and put the life plans off until tomorrow.


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