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Not getting into university was the best thing that happened to me
With 220,000 school leavers unable to get into university this year, many people will be left with a sudden unplanned gap year. Raleigh International is urging people to use the time constructively and turn it into a positive experience.
Raleigh takes groups of young people from different nationalities, backgrounds and life stages on expeditions overseas. They work on sustainable community and environmental projects combined with a tough adventure phase. Raleigh’s unique approach to personal development means volunteers can gain valuable skills such as teamwork, communication, adaptability and problem-solving, as well as coming away with increased confidence.
“When I didn't get into university, I had no idea what to do but it now turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Raleigh has helped me with every aspect of my life. The day after I returned I secured some work experience and it's also inspired me to think about studying for an MBA in America. The community part was most rewarding - when you work and cooperate with others you can really get some fruitful rewards. I've now just finished my first year at university. Looking back, I wasn't really ready for university but Raleigh has prepared me.”
Shamira Sanghrajka is from Middlesex and currently studying at UCL
“For me, confidence has always been an issue – Raleigh definitely helped me in that respect. I'm generally more independent and confident meeting new people. I'd recommend a gap year to anyone. Although mine was unplanned, I now feel miles ahead of others who have just gone straight into university in terms of the things I have done and the experiences I have gained.”
Jenni Birch, from Warwickshire, is on a gap year and now has a place at Manchester Met studying environmental science.
Kishan Ghandi from London is one of a growing number of school leavers that despite a flawless record of straight-A’s, didn’t get a single university offer and had to reapply for the following year. “Despite having four Grade A results at AS-level and four A’s predicted for my A levels, I was unable to secure an interview, let alone a university offer. As I wanted to study medicine, I knew it would be a long course and therefore I wasn’t originally planning on taking a gap year. However, when I had no other alternative but to reapply for the following year, I decided to join an expedition with Raleigh. It turned out to be, without a shadow of a doubt, the best experience of my life. Looking back now, not getting my place first time round was a blessing in disguise.”
Kishan Raj Ghandi, medicine student at Nottingham University
Raleigh is endorsed by many employers including UBS, Capgemini and Innocent drinks and is also able to offer bursaries to young people who wouldn’t be able to afford to fundraise the full amount needed to go on expedition.