Updated June 2021
Not everyone is a big fan of delaying their freshman year of college or taking a semester off during college. Many people just want to get their degree and begin their career. However, taking a gap year is a great way to enhance your college experience, even though you aren’t officially a college student yet. A year off can help you find what you’re truly passionate about which, in turn, can help you decide your career goals sometimes better than a college course can!
According to The Gap Year Association, a gap year is defined as “a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.” In other words, a gap year is not just a year of laying around and doing nothing. It’s a time for students to gain valuable skills and experience in a setting outside of the classroom.
Additionally, with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, you may be considering a gap year or gap semester for a mental and emotional break. That pandemic fatigue is real! You may also be reconsidering if you are suited to pursue a 2-year or 4-year degree before your career. There are other pathways and options out there and the traditional career path is not always the best one for everyone.
WHAT CAN YOU DO DURING YOUR GAP YEAR?
Learn Outside of the Classroom
One of the biggest benefits of doing a gap year is that you will gain a better understanding of the world. A gap year gives students an opportunity to learn things that you could never learn inside of the classroom. If you’re spending your gap year abroad, you will be introduced to new cultures. If you’re staying home, you can still gain a new appreciation for the world around you by volunteering, mentoring, or working.
Volunteering is a great way to improve yourself, your resume, and it helps out people in your local community. There are so many volunteer opportunities available such as helping out at food pantries and youth mentoring. One specific gap year opportunity you can apply for is City Year AmeriCorp, depending on where you live or if you want to travel. You just have to find which opportunity will best benefit you!
Gain Work Experience
A great way to spend your gap year is by getting work experience. One way to do this is by completing an internship in a field that you’re interested in. This will allow you to gain valuable career skills and also begin networking.
Another way to gain work experience is by working entry-level positions. Any experience and skills you can gain in the workplace will look great on your resume, especially when they can translate to your future career.
Combat Educational Burnout
Lets face it, keeping up with academics and social circles can have a bad impact on your mental health. School takes a lot out of you and it’s easy to feel burned out. However, according to GoodTherapy.com, “taking a gap year can give students time to psychologically decompress, alleviating and potentially eliminating many of the stressors that have accumulated during high school.” Moreover, taking a gap year often results in students doing better when they start undergrad or grad school.
A gap year is not for everyone but it provides students with benefits that can’t be found in college. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to take a gap year after high school graduation or even college graduation, consider if a gap year would make you a better candidate for the career you want to pursue!
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