It’s not uncommon for high school graduates to feel burnout after four years of hard work and studying. Consequently, more and more students are drawn to the idea of taking a gap year. Gap years give students the chance to take a break from studies and recharge their batteries. It’s also a great way for students to gain some experience and exposure to the real world before deciding on their major and settling into college life.
Although their are many benefits to taking a gap year, some students still hesitate, sticking to one of the following reasons:
- Taking a gap year means losing time. And there’s no security that things you do during the gap year will benefit you further in life
- Taking a gap year could result in loss of financial aid received from colleges
- Taking a gap year could negatively affect student resumes
The most common reason, though, is that students aren’t used to the idea of taking a break from education, because all they’ve ever known is studying. This basically means that they have no idea what to do with those 365 days off college.
To Reassure You…
Here are some stats that speak in favor of taking a gap year:
- 60% of students say that taking a year off helped them decide what major to pick for college
- 90% of students who took a gap year went to college afterward
- 80% of students confirmed that taking a gap year helped their employability
- 66% of students said their academic performance improved drastically after returning from their gap year
As you can see, taking a year off studying could be exactly what you need. But in order to truly reap all the benefits of a gap year, you need to plan your activities right.
Traveling is the most common activity for students who take a gap year. The beauty of it is that you not only get a chance to discover new destinations, but you also gain invaluable life experiences which will later benefit your resume and employability.
Here’s what you need to remember to make the most of your gap year.
Assign a Mission to Your Travels
If your unsure how to even begin planning your gap year travels, start from a different perspective and ask yourself: What mission do I want to accomplish during my time off? Maybe you want to improve your skills, or learn new ones. Or maybe you want to effect change and bring some value to others.
One of the best options for students taking a gap year is to enter a non-profit organization that involves traveling and can offer you every opportunity to apply your skills. NGO and non-profit organizations often have different internships and travel opportunities for students, offering the following options:
- Global volunteerism – These programs are a great opportunity for those who want to make a difference and work towards global goals. They usually don’t include compensation, however, they cover basic needs like room and board.
- Professional experience – These programs are usually about 80 weeks long and offer various opportunities for professional development. You can participate in this program either abroad or within your home country.
- Young entrepreneurship – These programs offer internship opportunities for future entrepreneurs looking to gain valuable knowledge and continue entrepreneurial activity afterward. Taking this opportunity is not only a good traveling option, but also a very big plus for your resume and future employment.
Opt for Immersive Experiences
If you’re not interested in dedicating time during your gap year to volunteering or working for NGOs, the best thing you can do to get the most out of your time abroad, is fully immersing yourself in each country you visit.
The best way to enjoy the full experience is to participate in couch-surfing programs where you live with locals. This way you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the culture. Try learning the language and eating only local foods. If your host is willing, have them take you around and show you what life is truly like for those who live in the country. Don’t just visit the big tourist attractions.
Staying with locals has actually become a very popular trend among students who travel during their gap year. “Among all the monthly accommodation requests we get, over 70% come from students who are searching for the options to stay with locals,”says Stephen James, a marketing specialist at Flatfy. It is a very popular option for students, so make sure you book your accommodations early.
Take on a Job Abroad
If you’re still wondering whether taking a gap year is right for you because you’re afraid you’ll be spending too much money and not earning anything, you can search for opportunities to work abroad (not specifically for an NGO or a non-profit).
One of the best life experiences I had was participating in a work and travel program, during which I came to work in the US for 3 months. Not only was I able to earn enough money to cover a couple years of college, but I also got a golden opportunity to perfect my English and immerse myself in a foreign culture.
I didn’t take a gap year and I only worked abroad for three months, but these programs offer longer work periods, so you can stay abroad working for about 5-6 months. Not to mention that it will be a real booster for your future career.
Wrapping it Up
I won’t object to the fact that you can take a gap year and spend the whole time procrastinating. It’s up to you to decide how you want to spend this time. But one thing you should understand is that you may not be able to take an opportunity like again — not to mention how many benefits it can bring to your future career.
Hopefully, the tips will give you a clear message on how to plan your gap year wisely and make the most of it.
About Kate Khom
Kate is a passionate writer who likes sharing her thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, she works as a real estate agent at hu.Flatfy.com. She likes everything related to traveling and new countries.