Life after high school can be daunting. The uncertainty and responsibility that comes with newfound adulthood are often trying. After twelve years of school, 2-8 more can be intimidating. Many students need a break from traditional education and want to explore life outside of the classroom. Recently, gap years have become a popular solution to this problem.
What is a gap year?
A gap year is a break students take from their education. Students can take a gap year for financial reasons, as a sabbatical from school, to gain experience, and so on. These breaks can be taken before, after, or during college. Gap years do not have to be an entire calendar year. A gap year can be anywhere from a few months, a semester, a year – any time frame, really.
A productive gap year is really about doing what you want. Pursuing your passion, traveling, gaining work and real-world experience, or just relaxing and recharging; your gap year is yours to do with as you please. Still, it’s also essential to grow during the gap year in preparation for the future.
So, how do you take full advantage of this time?
What To Do During a Gap Year
Make a Gap Year Plan
Decide what you’ll do during your gap year and make plans on how you can complete tasks and accomplish goals. Think about where you want to go, if anywhere, and what you want to do. Consider what will help you in the future. The best part about this time is that it’s primarily dictated by your own goals.
Determine how you’ll pay for your gap year. A gap year doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find affordable options like seeking job opportunities and paid internships, taking part in financial aid programs, or applying for scholarships.
TIP: For more information on financing a gap year check out these links:
Gap Year After High School? Apply for College & Defer
Even though you are taking a gap year, it’s important to still apply for colleges. When you’ve been admitted into a school, the next step is to request a deferral. A student-requested college admission deferral is a request to delay admission to a college until a later date. You’ll need to defer to hold your place at your future school for after your gap year.
It’s better to request your deferral before accepting your place in the incoming class. There are many reasons for this, such as flexibility–or lack thereof–of educational funding, unforeseen circumstances and changes of plans, etc. The extra time gives you more flexibility for your future, in case your deferral is denied or plans change. Committing to a school before they’ve accepted your deferral can cause confusion and may even cancel your gap year, as the college was not aware of your plans and admitted you on the basis that you would begin classes in the upcoming semester.
TIP: Want to know more about deferring college enrollment? Check out this step-by-step instruction on the deferment process: “How to Defer University Acceptance” – WikiHow
How to Request a Deferral
Every college has different protocols for receiving deferral requests. It’s up to you to find out what requirements your college has for deferral. It’s common to require a deferral request letter – a letter describing how you plan to spend your gap year. It’s up to the college to approve a student’s request for a deferral, so you need to complete all of the necessary actions in order to ensure you’re given consideration.
TIP: Want to write a deferral request letter, but don’t know where to start? Check out The Art of Applying’s blog post, “How to Request an Admissions Deferral.”
Gap Year Ideas
Whether you’re traveling or getting to work, use your time to the fullest. Use this opportunity to gain skills and expand your knowledge. This is the perfect time to do things you’ve always wanted to do, like exploring places, hobbies, and career options.
Gap Year Jobs and & Internships
Consider taking advantage of opportunities to gain first-hand job experience. Interning in areas of interest gives you an in-depth look into what your field of interest has to offer. Getting a job can help you acclimate to the working world while making some money.
TIP: Job opportunities and paid internships are everywhere! Websites like The Intern Group, Glassdoor, and Idealist can help you find employers near you!
Gap Year Programs
For those interested in travel, there is much to observe and learn from other cultures. Study abroad programs help you travel, find work in other countries, and volunteer.
TIP: Study abroad programs are always looking for volunteers and participants! For those looking to spend their gap year outside of the U.S., check out organizations like International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), Projects Abroad, and Pacific Discovery.
Deciding to take a gap year can be an opportunity to explore career opportunities, travel abroad, and take time to reflect and prepare for your next chapter. Gap years are an important step in your academic career that can pave the way for future success. Embrace your decision to take some time for yourself and above all, enjoy the journey!
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- “How to Take a Gap Year: Financing, Planning and More.” Discover. Discover Bank, Member FDIC, 2020. Web.
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- Flavin, Brianna. “What I Wish Someone Told Me Before Taking a Gap Year.” Rasmussen College. Rasmussen College, LLC., 2020. Web. 06 June. 2016.
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- Tank, Alisa. “Is Taking a Year Off College the End of the World?” GoAbroad.com. GoAbroad.com, 1998. Web. 21 Nov. 2017.
- “How to Request an Admissions Deferral.” The Art of Applying. The Art of Applying, 2020. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
- “Gap Year Financial Aid.” Gap Year Association. Gap Year Association, 2020. Web.
- Frot, Mathilde. “Seven Ways to Fund a Gap Year.” Top Universities. QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited, 1994-2020. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
- Blackman, Stacy. “How to Defer University Acceotance.” WikiHow. WikiHow, 2020. Web. 22 Apr. 2020