The term “gap year” often refers to a time that a student takes off between completing high school and beginning post-secondary, although it can also be taken during or after your university/college years.
Many students may ponder over whether a gap year might be the right move for them – as after all, it gives them a unique period of time where they can explore and examine their lives carefully, without the pressures of school.
There are a variety of decisions one has to make before attending post-secondary education:
- Is attending post-secondary education right for you?
- Do you want to go into a trade school or a university?
- Which school do you want to attend?
- What program do you want to get into?
- Is there somewhere you can start a program and then transfer to a different school?
Taking a gap year can give you more time to explore all your options, and figure out where your interests lie. That way, you are less likely to change programs a year in. If you take a gap year, don’t spend it napping – take some time to seek out a career counselor or do some research on possible career paths, and figure out what’s right for you.
Get a job
Getting a job is a really beneficial way to spend your gap year. For one thing, it allows you to save money for school. Everyone knows that tuition is expensive, so even saving money for your textbooks can go a long way when you do decide to enroll.
It will also allow you to get some work experience, which is something most employers look for. Even a job at a fast food place shows you have experience working with the public, which can help develop transferable skills for your career. You may also find an opportunity to get some experience in a field you are interested in (a team lead role, managing social media accounts, etc.) – this is a great way to test the waters and find out if that field is right for you.
Many people use their gap year to travel. For some, this may include a working-tourist visa, volunteering abroad, or just backpacking from hostel to hostel. Travelling can give you a chance to experience new cultures, new people, and new stories to weave into some of those papers you will have to write at school.
Also, many students and grads don’t realize that travel experience is something that many employers will find valuable on a resume. People who travel often bring back unique insights and perspectives that can help them stand out at an interview or networking event.
Taking (or retaking) high school classes
Maybe you barely passed that math class, or didn’t take it at all. A gap year is a great time to improve those grades, improving your chances for acceptance into a post-secondary program you may not have gotten into the first time around.
Depending on where you live, and when your birthday is, you may be able to do this upgrading for free. Seek out your high-school guidance counselor for advice on how to boost your grades so you can have the best chance at the career you want.
Misconceptions of the Gap Year
“You are not as intelligent if you decide to take this year off, simply because you feel you’re ‘not ready.’”
- It’s better to wait until you feel you are ready for university of college. Post-secondary is often very different from high school, and everyone adjusts differently. , Just because most of your peers are going back to school in September does not necessarily mean you should.
“It’s harder to go back once you leave”
- For some people this may be true. After adjusting to your gap year schedule, whether that includes travelling, working, or something else, it can be difficult to adjust to a school schedule again. However, most people do not have this problem, since many students understand that in order to get where they want to be in their career, they will need that degree or diploma.
“You can’t take more than a year off.”
- Once again, this depends on whether or not you’re ready (financially, emotionally, etc.). Post-secondary will still exist whether you take off one year or seven. Most schools don’t factor in how much time you’ve taken off. However, it’s important that you do not treat your gap years as a vacation – keep the big picture in mind, and know what your next step is to achieve your career goals.
“Your social life will dry-up because all your friends will be going back to school.”
- If this is one of your worries, read the article again. A lot of your gap year options give you the opportunity to meet new people and build connections. However, it’s up to you to take the first step and initiate those relationships, and maintain your old ones.
Your gap year can be a fantastic time to set up a solid foundation before pursuing post-secondary education. Going into university knowing exactly what you want to get out of it will alleviate a lot of stress, so you’ll have a happier experience with set goals in mind.