'Can I Switch Subjects and Take a Gap Year? Is It Too Late, at Age 50, to Study Psychology?' ; THE CAREERS ADVISER

Article excerpt

Degree of difference

My daughter, aiming for three As at A-level, has two offers to read English. But she has changed her mind about the location and course and wants to take a gap year and read history. Are there universities that don't like accepting students after a gap year? And as personal statements are subject driven, will she be penalised if her interest in history looks recent?

It's normal for humanities students to consider various degrees which fall under that heading, so her change of heart wouldn't be considered unusual. If she is going to make a new application for entry in 2008 she will be writing a new personal statement which will be read independently of her earlier application.

It would be sensible to refer to her gap year and how it will be well spent - work experience, working for money or well thought out travel will all help, particularly if she describes benefits gained. But she will not need, unless she wishes to, to refer to her change of subject. She should concentrate on getting the new personal statement right and demonstrating a real interest in the subject she is applying for now. It is usually perfectly acceptable to take a gap year or change subject. Departments may accept or even like students to take a year out, maybe some would be less keen. Phone and ask.

If she re-applies to the same universities it is also possible that they would look up her old application (UCAS forms have until now always asked for old application numbers). But even then, if she can make a well argued case for change, supported by specific evidence if possible, it would be unlikely to count against her. …