Skip to content Skip to navigation

Student Life Blog

Other Blogs

My Gap Year Experience

27 February 2023

6 mins

Having a gap year can be the best but most nerve-wracking time of your life before coming to university. Or at least that’s how I found it. My name is Ryan. I am in my second year of Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying (BSc with a Placement) here at Loughborough, and I took a gap year between sixth form and university.

To set the scene I was studying Maths, Further Maths, Biology, and Chemistry at sixth form and had a conditional offer to start at Loughborough in September 2020. However, due to the breakout of Covid-19 in March, my road to university took a few unexpected turns. My sixth form experience ended on a random Friday instead of the usual end of year celebrations, parties, and goodbyes. One positive….no exams; some may say that was lucky but more to come on that later.

When I did open that brown envelope on results day, I immediately knew the CDD I had been given wasn’t enough to get me into my dream university. Fortunately, a few weeks later those results were overturned, and I met my offer to study at Loughborough, but by now a lot of things had changed and I made the decision to defer my studies.

During my gap year, as Covid carried on I couldn’t travel like a lot of people. Instead, I worked full time at a restaurant and started counting down the days until I was going to get back on the path I knew I wanted to take. Whilst I loved my time at work, and it enabled me to save some money before moving to university, I knew ultimately what I wanted to do.

Leading up to university….

Once I chose my accommodation in April (one perk of deferring- choosing accommodation earlier) moving to university started to feel much more real. After getting the room I wanted, I started to become very nervous about a number of things. Would I make friends? How would I adjust to having deadlines again? Would I still be able to sit exams after nearly three years? What would I need to bring with me?

As someone who has since done all the above let me tell you, there is nothing to worry about. 

And so, it was time for the all important Ikea haul (other shops are available)! There’s plenty of advice available online on what and what not to bring with you. This is the time where I think the lead up becomes really exciting and starts to set in.

Freshers’ week is the start of your university experience and a chance to make friends with people in your flat and in your hall. Whilst most associate it with drinking and nights out, there are several day events to help you become aware of all that goes on during your time at Loughborough. Make sure to go to the Sports and Societies bazaar to sign up to anything that intrigues you; whether you’ve played for years or fancy trying something out for the first time, there’s loads of clubs you can get involved in. During these early days you may make a lot of friends, some of them may turn out to be your best friends, but don’t worry if you feel like you’ve not met your people immediately, as time goes on you will meet people you get on with!

Another big concern of mine was taking exams and submitting coursework after a long period of time. Luckily my lecturers were very clear about all of the work they set, explaining any briefs, and reminding us of deadlines as they approached. Exams at university are slightly different than sixth form. They tend to fall in two blocks, winter exams are after the Christmas break in January, and the summer exams at the end of semester two, in June. The number of exams you have will vary depending on your course and some may be short window (two hours long) in the exam hall, or some can be online and up to 24 hours long. I found taking advantage of being able to walk round the exam hall useful to calm any nerves before my first exam in nearly three years. There are also so many people on hand to help you; from your personal academic tutors, the student support centre or welfare reps on various committees, someone will always be there.

The final question I get ask a lot is if it really matters about being older than most students starting their studies this year, and to be honest it doesn’t. I’ve personally found that age doesn’t really matter at university. The activities and opportunities available to you mean that you’ll often find you spend time with people not on your course or in your year group. You may play sport together, attend lectures or go out to the same events together. Everyone has a different path to university, some may have come straight from sixth form, some may have taken a gap year, and others may have done a foundation year, so if someone does ask, just explain you took a year out, no big deal – it is also a nice ice breaker to discuss what you did in your gap year when you meet someone new!  

What am I up to now?… 

I am now in my second year at Loughborough, having completed 12 weeks of work experience at Taylor Woodrow and I am due to return for my placement year. Whilst at university I have got involved in lots of activities in and around my studies. During first year, I joined AU Powerlifting which enabled me to take my hobby of going to the gym more seriously.

This year, I am the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering Rep which has allowed me to get involved with the academic representation that happens at Loughborough University. I have also organised educational events with industry leaders, as well as social events for other students. 

I have enjoyed my Loughborough experience to the max and believe taking the gap year only made me more ready for what was coming.

Best wishes and I hope to see you on campus soon, 


Student Life

Find out what makes 'The Loughborough Experience' by reading our student blogs.

Scroll to Top