During my time at Sixth Form, I went through so many motions about what I wanted to do after I finished A Levels. At first I just wanted to leave and set up my own business. I then liked the idea of setting up in business for a year and then going to study Business Management at University.
Soon after, I realised that any business I set up wouldn't be successful if I didn't have a clear long-term plan - this would be disrupted by my studies at university. Unfortunately, personal issues then struck at home and I decided I would get a job and save up to eventually fund a business start-up.
At the time, this was a plan that I knew I had to execute. But again, times changed. The situation at home eased. I was allowed to flex my muscles of educational aspiration and once again I saw that university was an option for me. But I wanted a break. I needed a break.
Fourteen years of continuous schooling and four consecutive years of constant examination had taken its toll. I couldn't see myself being as motivated as I should be if I had left Sixth Form and gone straight into university. My effort and dedication would not have done the £9,000 per year tuition fee justice.
So a gap year was decided. I thought that it would give me plenty of time to carefully consider which universities to apply for and, with my results already known and 'in the bag', which ones I could realistically get into.
The reality has been that I haven't regretted it. Not one bit. I've gone and spent most of my time working at a great company doing work which is quite basic but requires me to interact with people constantly. I've earned and saved money which will relieve a financial burden I would have had whilst at university.
I've spoken to many people and I have enjoyed getting to know many people who are a lot older than me. This has been a big change from my time at school. I've been able to experience how different people behave and how to handle their attitudes. I'm sure gaining that experience sooner rather than later will have only been beneficial. Time away from education has also given me time to think. It might sound odd as you have to think all the time at school.
But I mean it gives you time to really think about yourself, your priorities and your life. Your head becomes clear as you're not consciously trying to retain information for an impending exam at the same time. I also gained a willingness to learn; something that was a struggle to come by at Sixth Form. I will actively try to find things out and I thoroughly enjoy doing so. My time off has allowed me to read more and I now have a better general knowledge. This is something I'll use at University - I've also had a head start on my course by learning a little of the content.
Looking for a job at the start of the summer made me realise how difficult it actually is. I would say that I have good qualifications but nobody important seemed to care about GCSEs or A Levels. So it questioned whether I should be doing Business Management. Without causing offence, there are hundreds of thousands of business students across the country. What would make me unique and stand apart? What's different between the different university business courses? Not a lot from what I could tell.
So that led me to pursue a career in journalism; something that I've longed for since childhood. It's something different; not many do it. But more importantly it's what I really wanted to do. So, I've been writing during my time off. Writing stories, reports, articles and anything that I can think of really.
So I may not have been living with the monkeys in Burma, skiing in Switzerland, swimming with Durban dolphins or wrestling crocs in billabongs in the Australian outback. But my gap year has, so far, been unbelievably welcome and a great experience.
If you have any doubt in your mind about University or what you want to do, have a gap year. If you go to University without being committed and 100% ready, you are potentially wasting away £27,000.
Think about that. Just because the fees don't come out of your bank account, it doesn't mean that the debts aren't yours. It is probably more money than you've spent in your entire lifetime.
Don't take it lightly. If you have doubt, take a year out.