How to Apply to University After a Gap Year and make you application successful

How To Apply To University After A Gap Year 2024

A gap year is a period that a student takes off between finishing secondary school and starting university. It can be a great opportunity for personal growth, professional development, and travel experience. Many students find that it helps them to be more focused and motivated when they do begin their studies.

But, how to apply to university after a gap year?

If you’re taking a gap year, or if you’ve already taken one and are now thinking about applying to university, we created this guide for you. We understand how changeling is to apply to university after a gap year. 

Should I Take A Gap Year Before University?

In the first place, should you take a gap year? Travel or gaining work experience are two of the most common reasons for taking a year off.

However, there are many others as well. Working full-time might give you more time to decide on your degree choice if you have family commitments, or if you have a few options and need more time to consider your options.

Make sure you set some clear goals for what you’re going to achieve during your year out so you have a plan for what you’re going to do in a gap year.

Planning Your Gap Year Wisely 

Before you start your gap year, make sure to have a clear idea of what you want to do and how you want to spend your time. Think for the moment, and learn how to plan your Gap Year.

The most common things students are doing during the gap year are:

Travelling – This can be an amazing way to see new places, learn about different cultures, and broaden your horizons. Consider volunteering abroad or participating in a study abroad programme for a more structured and meaningful experience. This can help you enrich your personal statement.

Working – Taking a job can help you gain valuable work experience and earn money for university to pay fees and student accommodation. If you are going to work, try to find positions that are related to your interests in university courses.

Volunteering – Giving back to your community can be an enriching way to spend your gap year. Consider volunteering at a non-profit organisation, a hospital, or a school to gain valuable skills and make a difference.

Financing your gap year can be a challenge, but there are many ways to make it happen. You might consider saving money while you’re still in secondary school, applying for grants and scholarships, or taking out a loan.

Read our complete guide:

Do Universities In The UK Accept Gap Years?

Universities in the UK accept students who have undertaken a gap year. Most universities welcome those who have deferred entry. 

As a result of your time off, you will have matured, had time to reflect on your goals, and will be able to bring additional experience to your university of choice.

Keep in mind, however, that how your university interprets your time off is largely determined by how you frame it in your application. Show how you used your gap year productively and how it helped you grow personally in your personal statement. 

Applying To University After Your Gap Year 2024

When it comes time to apply to university after a gap year, it’s important to choose a university and choose a course that’s the right fit for you. Consider factors such as location, course types, university ranking, academic offerings, and extracurricular opportunities when making your decision.

Write a strong personal statement that reflects your goals and experiences to make your application stand out. You should seek recommendations from teachers, mentors, or supervisors who can speak to your abilities and potential. In your UCAS application, highlight any relevant experiences or achievements from your gap year.

Different admissions tutors view gap years differently, so you should be prepared to explain your gap year in your application. Describe how your gap year experience has prepared you for university and how it has contributed to your academic or professional development. In most cases, this will be a plus. 

If you are applying to university after a gap year, you have two options:

  • To defer a place 
  • To apply directly to UCAS after a gap year

Defer Your Place At University

Students can defer their place on a course for one year through UCAS. This means it is possible to postpone a place for one year. Before the course starts you must meet the entry requirements to be able to defer a place. You need to get your grades by the end of August 2023 if you want to start your course in September 2024. If you do not defer your place, your chosen university may remove you from the course. Make sure to double-check the university’s deferring procedure. 

Applying To UCAS After A Gap Year

If you simply decided for a gap year, and want to apply next year – UCAS allows you to pay a small fee to submit your own application. 

It’s common for mature students as well as non-UK students to do this, so you won’t be alone. Years after you complete your A levels, you can apply by submitting your grades and personal statement. We have a comprehensive step-by-step guide for the UCAS application.

Personal Statement After A Gap Year

Your experience is very relevant and important for your personal statement. If you have taken a year or more off from university, make sure your personal statement includes the experiences you have gained. 

Universities like to hear about what you have been doing and how this has helped you develop. Taking part in activities, and how these have helped you develop, is something universities like to hear about. Including details about your volunteer activities, travelling experience, working on relevant new jobs, and research projects, maybe will help you to stand out in the eyes of admission tutors.

Read our full guides to help write a personal statement:

Making The Most Of Your Gap Year

The gap year is a valuable opportunity to learn, grow, and explore, and there are many ways to make the most of it. If you want to keep a record of your experiences and accomplishments, consider keeping a journal or creating a portfolio. Participate in academic conferences or join online communities related to your interests to stay connected to your university life.

Don’t Forget Referees

To ensure your references are submitted on time and accurately reflect your abilities, it is important to be in touch with referees, so they can meet deadlines. Firstly, check with your teacher from secondary school, as this is the most common way to get a reference. 

Also make sure to confirm with a person before listing them as a referee on your UCAS application, to get a positive recommendation. 

Check out our  UCAS Reference Letter: Ultimate Writing Guide

Clearing After A Gap Year

If you’re feeling a bit behind on your university application process and have missed the UCAS deadlines, don’t worry really! You can use Clearing to find a course that fits your interests and goals. Simply search for available options and proactively find the right fit for you. 

Read our ultimate guide on UCAS Clearing.

Final Thoughts

Taking a break from formal education and focusing on personal and professional growth can be a useful way to life and skills. If you are planning a gap year – plan ahead in detail. Choose the right university course, and take advantage of your time off if you are considering applying to university after a gap year. Taking a gap period can set you up for success in your studies and beyond if you plan and prepare carefully.


Can you take a gap year between the 2nd and 3rd years?

You can have as many gap years as you want in between different study years. But, understand that sometimes it is difficult to get back to school and study routine after long breaks.

Does taking a gap year affect university admission?

Taking a gap year before university won’t affect your admission chances if you use your experience wisely. Make sure you understand when and how to mention your gap year when applying for college.

What are the disadvantages of a gap year?

Potential downsides include cost, lost momentum, difficulty getting back into school life, missing out on opportunities at the university, and study gaps.