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Applying for History in a Gap Year

By Poppy Atkinson-Gibson

I was really torn during 6th Form between an academic or an art degree. For me it was a real toss up between set design and history. And so, because of my indecision I held back on applying to university at all and instead took a gap year.

I was advised by my school at the time to write a few different personal statements so that I had something and wasn’t completely cast out, fending for myself the following year but, stupidly I didn’t really take it seriously.

So, eventually I did decide on an academic course. I chose History at Oxford, you can’t get more academic than that! And so I began on the application process. Applying on your own is really difficult. I came form a good state school but even then, the expertise for Oxbridge was really lacking, but nonetheless, having some sort of support system around you is always nice.

I scoured The Student Room and blogs like TOG for advice and found that really helpful. I got a number of different personal statements and narrowed down the similar qualities that I might need to emulate and had a brainstorm.

I did also contact my school and they were happy to help but not being directly in the system made communication slow and difficult at times and, because they were dealing with the current 6th form students, I wasn’t really their top priority.

Nonetheless, my mentor was really helpful and I managed to put together a successful personal statement, but I wish I had listened to advice at the time and got all the help I could whilst still at school. I think that would have made the whole application process significantly easier. So my advice for those applying in a gap year is to go back to your schools and ask for help and use the resources online including Oxford’s website and other blogs and student forums because there is a wealth of information out there, it just might need some mining!


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