Guest Post by Hazel Taylor
A “gap year,” sometimes called a “deferred year,” refers to the time period a student now has on their hands as a result of deferring admission after being accepted to the college of their choice. A student may need time between high school and college to deal with a family crisis or personal injury or illness. Or the student may want to pursue and gain some valuable life experiences before they begin the grind of higher education. Many colleges will approve a request for deferred admission, so long as they get a reason in writing and a deposit. But policies vary, so don’t assume that this will be the case with every school you apply to. So what are some things you can do during a gap year that will benefit you and your educational and career goals? Here are seven ideas to consider.
Traveling, either across the U.S. or overseas, is a popular activity among students taking a gap year. There are many possibilities for employment as well as volunteer work in parts of the world that may be completely foreign to you. Cultural immersion, learning a language, and documenting your experiences will help you bring a global perspective to whatever area of study you eventually choose to pursue. And thinking even further ahead, many employers like to see travel experience on the resume of a potential hire.
Working abroad is a great way to cover the cost of traveling overseas. Students generally work abroad not so much for the pay, but for the experience of working with people in a foreign culture. If your goal for your gap year is to save up some money for upcoming tuition and college living expenses, then you probably want to work close to home, and at a job that may not require much brain power but pays well (like waiting tables). Then again, thinking of your future, consider interning at a company you’d like to work for one day. Or work at a local, independently owned retail shop, and get an idea of what it’s like for business owners with close ties to their community. Decide what your goal is for your gap year, and then pursue job opportunities accordingly.
The difference between interning and volunteering is fuzzy. Interning is generally associated with the corporate world, while volunteering is a term common in the not-for-profit sector. Interning is generally done to develop your professional skills, whereas volunteering is inspired by the desire to help and give back. But that doesn’t mean potential employers disregard one’s volunteer experience when reviewing a resume. Determine what is driving you in your gap year: resume building or altruism. Maybe you can find something to do that will satisfy both of these goals.
If you are able to do a deferral, check to see if the college you’ll be attending will accept credits for any academic programs you may complete during your gap year. Some colleges won’t, but that doesn’t mean formal study won’t be of value to you when you are enrolled and attending school. Private study under one instructor, either formal or informal, is another option for you during this time. If there’s a skill or trade you’ve always wanted to learn, see if a local craftsman or school is accepting students.
If the thought of immediately jumping into the college environment right out of high school makes you, well, nervous, why not slow down and take an extended period of time to meditate on your life and goals? Or just meditate for no other reason than to meditate, and see how it can build up your confidence, your immune system, and sense of calm. Your local library, Zen temple, or YMCA may offer group meditation classes to help get you started.
Staying healthy during your gap year is important, especially if you are traveling. A medical check-up, vaccinations, and medication to prevent malaria are all things you’ll need before traveling to many places across the globe. But if you’re staying put, you have time to begin a workout regimen or further develop athletic skills. Many students arrive at college with no idea how to eat properly or take care of their physical health. Take time during the gap year to learn how you can stay healthy in college despite all-night study sessions and less than healthy cafeteria food.
As a culture, we tend to negate creative pursuits as if they aren’t “serious.” “You make any money doing that?” is the common question people ask when creative people talk about their work, be it painting, writing, or acting. However, many believe creativity is crucial to being successful, no matter what field of work you decide to pursue, including business and other corporate jobs. Bill Gates certainly believes in the value of creative capital. So why not take some time to develop and explore your own creativity without any outside pressures?
previously published here
- Top 5 Misconceptions About a Gap Year Student (lukep.typepad.com)
- Take a gap year? You’re probably lower paid (news.com.au)
- Students Perform Better In College After Taking A Gap Year (keptup.typepad.com)