Why I’m Not Applying for University This Year

Around this time, if you live in the UK and are in year 13 or equivalent, the majority of people will be in the process of applying to 5 universities, getting their personal statement ready, getting references from teachers and finally submitting their application. A fair few people will have already applied, received some offers or even got unconditional offers. I’m not one of those people. Instead, I’ve decided to apply next year.

A year ago, I was all set to do it all this year. I started thinking about open days and in June, I went to my first one in Birmingham. Since then, I’ve gone to 4 more open days, really got a feel for the course I want to do – English Literature and Creative Writing. Although I didn’t work on my personal statement in the summer, I was going to start in September. Why, then, did I change my mind, when everything seemed to be in place?

To explain all this, we’ll have to go back a bit. The first thing to say is that I’m “Severely Sight Impaired” – in other words, I can’t see much at all, or much to be useful. My independence is very lacking; I concentrated on GCSEs so much that I think I let my mobility and drive for independence go to the sidelines. That’s a whole other issue but the point is that I don’t have much independence; just being visually impaired isn’t the sole reason because there are so many VI people who lead independent lives and are happy. For me, instead of going to a special school for Sixth Form, the idea of going to one for a year after my A-Levels finished to increase my independence was suggested to me and I finally started to realise that not only would it be a great idea but it would make me much happier and more confident.

I applied for 2018 entry, got a place on what they call a Pre-Entry Assessment and went there in October. I can honestly say it was such a great experience – I spoke to the teachers there and the people who could really help me to get funding to go. It was then that I started to truly realise that applying to university whilst I was there would be a better option, for reasons I’ll get onto in a minute. After coming back from the assessment, I got a phone call saying that I had a place (in my usual fashion, I was shocked and I think I genuinely squealed?).

Up until 2 months ago, the resolution of applying and deferring held. However, I had some reservations about the whole thing. Firstly, I thought, if I got a place at the college for the year after, I could just apply there and that stress would be reduced. Going there and discussing it with them helped with that: they were supportive and one of the staff members mentioned to me that deferring might actually cause me more stress in case something went wrong. At the moment, the less stress I have, the better.

As well as that practical side of things, I have extremely bad mental health at the moment. In no way is that an excuse to not do something but many things are going on in my life, such as new opportunities but also personal issues, which means that my stress levels are off the charts. University applications have made that so much worse. I know that just delaying it isn’t the answer, that I should work on it, but for me it doesn’t feel like delaying or avoiding. It just feels like I can apply when I personally feel ready.

There are many reasons why applying now would be a good idea and I get that. First, it gets it out the way; it also gives me a goal to work towards. It puts me in the mindset of higher education and also would make my future a little more certain, yet this can all be done next year. This has all been said to me, both by others and by myself, but those arguments don’t convince me. Because I know that I’ll be able to apply next year, that I’ll have more time and I don’t feel right about applying this year, I think that applying next year will be the best option for me. It won’t be the same for many people but we’re all individuals and what works for someone won’t work for someone else and vice versa.

A lot of my teachers have told me to apply this year and defer. I’ve explained some of my reasoning to people; most understand but some don’t at all. However, I know that plans and people and lives change. Hell, next year I might decide I don’t want to go to university at all, that I want to do a different course or that I don’t like the unis I applied to. Also, it means I can apply with the results I already have: motivation of getting a certain grade has never held me up. Because of that, I’m not going to be putting that awful pressure on myself that made me collapse into myself before; I just feel that it might be better for me all round. It will probably make me feel the most healthy, the most put together and the least stressed out of my options.

I want to apply when I know I’m giving myself the best opportunities I can. My personal circumstances – where I know I’m taking a year out next year – have allowed me to do that. At the moment, pretty much everything is uncertain compared to what it was before. That’s okay. Life doesn’t always have to be about certainty.

Whether you apply this year, the next or the year after, remember that you should always put yourself first. There will be things you do, decisions you make, that people won’t understand, where they think you’re not being sensible or that you’re just taking the “easy” way out. Remember, though, that life has a thousand different roads you can go down and it’s fine if your road doesn’t run in the direction you thought it would.

Don’t be afraid of doing something that’s not “typical” of what people usually do. For whatever reason, you might decide that doing what the majority of your friends are doing isn’t for you right now. Consider all your options but most importantly? Don’t let university applications be the most daunting, most terrifying thing ever. You’ve got a life to live besides that, after all.

I hope this has helped anyone, whether that be to realise they do want to apply now or not, or just to let you think a little. I’ve done enough screaming over uni – I don’t want you to do the same if people are being shitty about your decisions.

Are you applying to uni this year? Did you decide to take a year out? Let me know in the comments!

From Elm 🙂

71 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Applying for University This Year

  1. I’m applying to Uni this year… Though this is sort of like my gap year and I’ve been able to think about what I really want to do… I think taking a year out isn’t a bad idea.

      • Well… I’m studying medicine or Engineering depending on the institution that takes me. I haven’t done much this year because I’ve been busy taking exams… But I’m hoping to go to a computer institute and learn a trade before school next year…🙂🙂

  2. I never really saw taking a gap year as an option but now I definatly am considering it after this post. I feel that it would be good for me to do in terms of being a film maker as i’ll have alot of time to do that whilst building my porfolio. And its true university isn’t for everyone and even if it is you still need a break! I hope everything works out 🙂

  3. Hey Elm,

    Just a friendly note that I took a year out of applying to university. I wasn’t in the best place with my mental health either and I generally didn’t want to go to the open days. I worked for my gap year and learned so much, made lots of new friends and applied a year after.

    Yes it’s daunting with all of your friends starting a year before you but honestly when you get to university (I started in September this year) you make so many friends that it doesn’t matter that your ones from home started the year before-everyone is in the same boat.

    I really hoped this helped and honestly if you have any questions about university or how to take a great gap year, let me know😊

    Mollie x

    • Hia Mollie,
      Thank you so much for this – it was really reassuring to know that someone did what I want to do for similar reasons and it worked out great for you! Yeah, it feels daunting with my friends seeming to be progressing before me but progression is subjective! Thanks again!!! Your words mean a lot to me.
      Love from Elm xx

  4. I love this! From someone who has just graduated university, it’s so important to make that step when you’re ready. Well done girl xx

  5. I didn’t apply once I finished my a levels, neither did my friend. We both still don’t really know where our place in society is. I still don’t know whether I’ll want to go or not. Its tough.

  6. I think you have made the right choice and it will really work out for you. If I had the chance to go back in time I would definitely have a year off before applying to uni. Not only did I need the break but I also got better grades then all my teachers predicted and I could have gone to the uni I really wanted but got rejected from based on my predicted grades. x

  7. I loved this post as always! I finished my A levels in June 2016 and didn’t go to uni, I worked as a trainee for the RNIB instead but my contract ended in August so now I’m figuring out what the next step is for me. I’ve been thinking of doing a creative writing course with the open university but I’m still unsure if this is the right thing for me or not. Great post as always Elm xx

  8. This is fab! I took a year out and, at the time, thought that I was making a huge mistake. A few years later though, many of my friends who went straight to Uni, regret not taking a year out and think they’d have been in a much better position to start University if they had had a break after A-levels. Fab post! x

    • Ahh, thank you!! 🙂 How did you find your year that you took out – what did you do? It’s great things worked out! I’m just trying to figure out where I want to go in the direction of my life xx

      • At the time I just couldn’t stop thinking about uni! But actually I went to Spain and was an aupair, then worked – I honestly learnt so much about the real world beyond education!! Don’t be afraid – talk it through but ultimately do what YOU want to do xxx

  9. I’m in uni right now and honestly, it’s not going to be for everyone. I know many friends from college who applied and a month before their exams they deferred. I’m very academically orientated, so getting into uni was one of the biggest stepping stones of my life. Not everyone shares the same dreams and THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE! Like you mentioned, since you focused on your GCSE’S and didn’t get a chance to grow your independence, use the year off to grow as a person. YOU CAN DO IT! ❤

    • THANK YOU!!!! I’m so glad things are going well for you; that makes me happy! I think we all need to do what WE want, rather than what other people want from us. Uni might be the right route for me but it might not – I’m still growing as a person after all! Thank you for this xx

  10. I ended up taking a gap year that was sort of unplanned, but that I’d thought about a bit so it wasn’t totally on a whim. I still think it was the better choice for me at the time considering my mental health and despite the pressures to get into Uni straight away, I really don’t think it’s the best route to take for everyone until they feel like they should. I definitely feel better about uni now, anyhow. It’s good that you’re confident in your decision and I wish you all the best!! X

    • Ahh, I’m so glad it worked out well for you and that you were happier doing it! I think it’s so essential to put yourself first in these situations 🙂 Have you started uni this year or did you start last? Thanks so much for your advice and story! xx

  11. Great post! English Literature and Creative Writing sounds great. I wish we could study Creative writing as a whole degree. Well done for doing what you feel is best for you, that’s so important. And huge congrats for passing your assessment and getting your place! Best wishes!

  12. I think whatever you do you’ll do it fabulously, you might not realise it at the moment but your mind is bloody brilliant. You make so many people happy, inspire tonnes more. It might not be happy right now, pulled down under by stress, so give yourself time. Do what you feel is right for you. And let your brilliant mind rest and heal. You are very strong, you don’t need people to put you back together because you can heal yourself, but make sure you speak to people and listen to yourself. I’m so proud of you, keep being strong lovely, always always here if you need to vent xxx

  13. Im really glad you’re being open about not going to uni just yet. I think sometimes we forget that not everyone was made to follow that path to higher education. And seeing you talk openly about it – and how you may apply next year, really shows that nothing is ever unchangable. You can always change your mind. You’re never just stuck.

    • Exactly! There are always other pathways and other ways to succeed and be happy. I’m glad that we know that because yes, we aren’t ever just stuck 🙂 thank you!

  14. I am glad you have found something that you like the look of! At the end of the day university isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t go to university that isn’t the end of the world. There is this stigma created by schools that you MUST GO TO UNI because it soooooo important blah blah blah, but at the end of the day another person applying to uni is a better result on their half. There is so many other options. I have applied for two places, and have received one conditional offer, and I am waiting on an interview date for the other.

    • Yes exactly!! It doesnt’ work for everyone and that okay 🙂 I hate the view that if you don’t go to uni, you automatically won’t do as well. It’s a load of crap because some people just don’t want to go and again, that fine! Also, I bet your interview will go fab xx

  15. omg, i’m not applying to unis this year either. i’m just not sure how to tell my parents. it’s been eating away at me so i’m glad i came across this. i’ve been meaning to make a post to let it all out! but reading this was quote cathartic too.

    • I’m so glad that you found this relatable and that you are doing what you want to do 🙂 don’t worry about telling the parents. If they don’t support you, then they don’t properly understand your reasons and if you’ve explained to them, try to show that you genuinely believe that this is the right decision for you. 🙂

  16. It’s totally ok that you take a year out, the important thing is that you feel good when the time arrives.
    Best of luck!! 😀
    Btw I noticed ou changed to be .com!! Congrats!! Also, while reading your post I noticed the follow button didn’t say following, I clicked follow, I’m just letting you know in case you think I wasn’t following you all this time lol 😛

  17. Even though I’m in my first year of uni now, I totally get what you mean about not doing things the ‘typical’ way. As the name suggests, I don’t drink and I go home every weekend to work which many people think is strange but it works for me. It’s so important not to let university to control everything you do. Anyway, the people on my course who took a year out seem so much more prepared for literally everything that uni can throw at them haha!

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