University – should I defer?

Whether you’ve just finished college or have been working for the last few years, applying to university is a serious decision for everyone. While we’ve discussed the benefits of coming to uni, we haven’t yet touched on the idea of deferring your place.

If you want to go to uni, but feel like you need a break from studying first, you might want to defer.

Deferring is when you have a place at university but decide to delay your actual studying time until the following year, meaning you have an extra 12 months to spend doing something else before you begin university life. It could be your big chance to fulfil your travelling ambitions, volunteer, do an internship or work full time.

Deferring can be an opportunity for you to gain extra experience, develop new skills and competencies, explore new cultures and just enjoy yourself. Working full time can boost your budget for university, and it may mean you don’t have to work and study – meaning  you’ll have more time to focus on your studies!



Doing an internship or working in an area related to your dream career will make you stand out as a job candidate. It shows that you are a reliable and committed individual – qualities any employer appreciates. You’ll gain valuable experience, learn about the industry and familiarise yourself with the responsibilities of a particular role. It can motivate you to continue to pursue this career or it can do the opposite, show you that you’re more suitable for something else. This is great in the sense that you’d have learned what you’re good at before choosing a course and having to change. You’ll have the chance to meet people that are familiar with the industry. You can ask for priceless advice on how you should approach your career path, and you’ll be able to identify the modules that best help you get where you want on the career ladder.


You could choose to travel in your gap year, exploring places you’ve never been before or returning to a favourite destination. You can choose to travel around the UK, Europe or the entire world. You could work for half a year and save money to go on your dream holiday. You’ll see how other people live, bringing you a new perspective on life; meeting new people and having new experiences will boost your confidence, and you’ll get to love being independent – perfect for when you’ll be in charge of all your decisions during the university years.


Whether in your hometown or abroad, volunteering can be another great way you can spend your gap year. You can get involved in various projects and have different roles, therefore gaining extensive work experience. Volunteering can be a great opportunity if you have struggles in securing paid roles. With the experience and skills acquired during your voluntary roles, it will be much easier to find employment :). Volunteering is very broad – you can be working at festivals, events, charity shops or projects that will directly impact someone’s life. If you have a limited budget you can stay at home or go abroad to volunteer. Look online for volunteering opportunities.


While the idea of a free year before starting university is attractive for numerous reasons, it’s important to take into account some of its disadvantages. For example, taking a year off is great to clear your mind and relax after full time studying, but when you’ll get back to it you might need a bit of time to get back in the study mood. Secondly, if your course is particularly long, you’ll enter the job market later, and you need to take into account the level of competition for the industry you want to work in.

Lastly, you need to consider the 0,00001 possibility of your initial plans failing or being different than you expected. You need to be able to answer questions like ‘What happens if I can’t find an internship/job?’ ‘What if I don’t like travelling by myself?’ ‘Can I afford to do this?’ need an answer before making the decision to deferring your university year. Always have a Plan B.

At the end of the day, what’s important is that you fully consider both the advantages and disadvantages of deferring your offer and choose accordingly. Try to make a plan for a potential gap year before you apply for a deferral so that you’ll feel more confident about your decision.

If you’ve set your heart on deferring your studies, you can apply as a deferred applicant, therefore the university you apply for already knows about your future plans. Or once you have received an offer from university you can decide to accept it, and defer it for next year. You’ll feel very  relieved if you know the university has a place for you on their next intake – and this will mean you enjoy your gap year even more!

Have fun!