A-Level Results Week: Now What?

Posted on the 11th August 2020

If there is a single day in the year that focuses the minds of young people and their parents on this question, it is A-Level results day. Your results reflect the culmination of years of study but can still raise more questions than answers about future plans. These include a myriad of queries about university and other study opportunities in higher education, as well as deliberations about starting work formally, apprenticeships, leaving home, taking a gap year, travelling the world, parental expectations, peer pressure … the list is endless.

Recent studies out of North America indicate that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has many universities adapting autumn schedules and moving lectures online or to a hybrid teaching model — not exactly what most students dream that their university experience will be. Students are questioning the value of their tuition fee if coming to lectures means attending on screen. The on-screen experience means not interacting with lecturers and classmates in the same way, or being able to be part of campus life, extracurricular activities, social opportunities and the other benefits that we associate with the university experience.  It’s no wonder that many students are planning to take a gap year to defer university.

In a recent study on Covid-19 and university access, the London-based Sutton Trust, a social mobility organisation, found that one in five university applicants (19%) in the UK had changed their mind about university attendance for the 2020 academic year – whether in terms of their preferred university or by deferring a place in favour of a gap year.

A gap year is a year off from one’s normal routine or formal study, often between secondary school and university, where a young person typically travels, volunteers, or works before continuing their formal education. Because of the intention and purpose behind the year, we sometimes say that a gap year is not a year off, but a year on. Deferring a place at university is common and the percentage of people doing this each year remains constant. It may be possible to defer a place after your results so you can take advantage of gap year options.   You have nothing to lose by asking the university about the possibility of deferral. Recent research shows that 90% of those taking a gap year start university the following year.

We acknowledge that there is uncertainty about international travel at the moment and you may be wondering if now is the right time to be planning a trip.  The situation around the world is rapidly changing and evolving and we are optimistic and planning for a return to regular programming as of January 2021. We encourage you to apply and keep your options open for the coming year. There is no risk to applying for our program as deposits are fully refundable if your planned destination has a coronavirus-related travel restriction in place.  To learn more about this policy, please read this past update from the Lattitude blog. Upon receipt of your application, our team will set up your interview process (by video call) to get to know you and explore opportunities and options for your gap year. Apply today and get the process started!

While many young people will spend their gap year a long way from home – for example, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or Ghana – Lattitude also has opportunities in European countries, such as Spain or Poland. You don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to immerse yourself in a different culture and have an amazing gap year experience. For some young people, being able to come home easily at certain times during their placement is really attractive, and a visit from family and friends is considerably easier if you are closer to home.

At Lattitude, we expect to receive new applications after A-Level results day. Each year, up to 15% of all young people from the UK who are placed abroad by Lattitude, only apply after receipt of their A-Level results. Our placements starting between January and March are our most popular, totalling about 60% of the young people we place each year from the UK. Many young people are fortunate in that they can continue to live at home after their results. They are able to spend the autumn working and saving towards a really worthwhile international experience which starts in January, and fill the remainder of their gap year in this placement before resuming their studies the following year.

Placement length is something we feel is really important. If you are planning to take a gap year, try to fill as much of it as possible with something really meaningful. The longer a placement lasts, the greater the likelihood that the role will carry more responsibility – with actual duties where you can make a more significant impact – and ultimately will look better on a CV or application. Longer placements mean more chances to build meaningful relationships with colleagues and develop friendships in the local area, more time to learn about a different culture – and more opportunities even to learn a language.

Travelling alone comes with is many additional challenges versus traveling with an organization such as Lattitude. Our structured placements ensure that you are doing something valuable with your time as a volunteer. And more importantly, in today’s uncertain world, our Ladder of Support means that you are not alone while you are living internationally. You are provided with accommodation, food, mentorship, expert advice and support – all of which go a long way in making you feel at home away from home.

If you want to do further research into taking a gap year with Lattitude, you can view all the opportunities we have to offer on our website. Alternatively, drop us an email or give us a call. We’d love to chat with you!  

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