This paper addresses a gap in the literature on student work placements, specifically the challenges of returning to final year study after a year out. We focus on students in an Accountancy and Finance Department at one UK University who alerted us to the ways in which they struggled during the transition back to full time study. Their accounts were surprising in the light of, albeit limited, research and our own perceptions that students who go on placement fare better in the final year than those who do not. We draw two inferences from this research which we discuss in this paper. First there is a need to refine analyses and evaluations of the benefits of a placement year. Second, there is a need to expand the repertoire of methodologies in empirical placement research to include those that provide opportunities for students to articulate what matters to them.