Plugging the Gap Year

I didn’t plan to take a gap year. But due to a series of demanding events I have had to forgo the second academic year and take a break from university. I wanted to go into the second year but due to my university’s mismanagement of my course it has caused me to delay my studies.

About a while ago I wrote about education misjudging your intelligence. My university has given me a very unfair judgement and is undermining me with their agenda. I pointed out to them several inefficiencies in their management of the course and the content was not properly presented to me. In one lecture I was given instructions for a practical in using a graph that I was supposed to use that didn’t have any instructions in the paper to use it. As a first year student your not supposed to be expected to do any reading outside of the lectures but they set it up to have me expect to have prior knowledge of this graph.

I think they could have better coordinated the field trip assignments as well. There wasn’t enough instructions for me to present the results correctly. I had already declared a disability to them and presented two medical notes confirming my autism diagnosis but they never got me any study support from the university disability services. I didn’t get a mentor until the second term. Despite my best efforts on my part they didn’t improve on their part. In the end I failed half my modules and they expect me to take resits even though it was their fault that they messed up!

I spent much of the summer doing a part time job at tea shop and two weeks volunteering at the European Championships in Glasgow. During the summer I also spent the time challenging their decision to let me through and refusing to take the resits. In the end I spent so long being unsuccessful that I left it to late to accept their resit exam offers. Eventually I left it so late I had to let the year pass and come back after 2018-19.

Although I have had to forgo the second year I am quietly relieved. The last thing I want to do is go ahead with the second year with little preparation for the upcoming field trip and a lot of demanding modules that I didn’t have much time to prepare for.

I have laid out some ideas about what to do with my gap year. One thing that I have considered doing is to think about doing Environmental Geology in a way that my university didn’t do. I went on some good field trips but I wish I could have gone to places of study that I wanted to go to. So for this gap year I am going to become an amateur scientist doing my own geology projects.

Here is an idea on how to plan your own field trip. First choose a location of some geological interest like a valley, a beach, a mountain or a swamp. Look for things that have already been seen by a geological survey and assemble a set of tasks for yourself to do at the location. I am planning a Loch Ness trip as an example, which you can use here.

Loch Ness forms the boundary between two sides of a fault line known as the Great Glen Fault. The northern half has a terrane composed of Moine metasedimentary rocks, the southern terrane is composed of Dalradian metasedimentary rocks. So there is two types of rocks of different ages on each side to examine. The next thing to think about is where will these rocks be exposed to the surface. If they are buried under sand and soil then there is no point going to look for them.

You will need to look for them prior to the trip look them up from the EDINA Digimap service provided by the University of Edinburgh. They have maps provided to universities for research and academic purposes. They can be downloaded to mobile devices for digital copies or for you to print.

I would also recommend looking for a good accommodation to base yourself. It would be best if you could find a place that has good transport links, services to provide you with food and drink, and is within a few miles of your study location. I am a non-driver so I would have to take public transport to places. But if you have a car then you can make your own way there.

But having the time to study yourself isn’t enough. You will have to get a job to keep yourself financially safe. Most employers will want you to hold down a job while on your time off to prove your able to keep yourself secure and dependable. Being a university student isn’t a carefree bachelor lifestyle.

I am applying for a job at the moment and with a bit of luck I will either be an explainer at the Science Museum or an archery instructor. I am very keen to get the Science Museum job because it is by association something related to what I am studying as a science student. It will help to reinforce my studying.

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