- Have a plan, develop a routine, and set goals. No matter whether you’re interning, volunteering, or travelling to the other side of the globe, having a plan will give you a path, a routine will give you structure, and goals will give you energy and inspiration.
- Do your best to know the steps you want to take after your gap year… before you take it. What are you passionate about? What do you want to study? Maybe you know where you want to be for college but are still unsure on what major you want to focus on or what career path you want to take – a gap year is a perfect time to experiment, ask questions, and try new things. If you do have an interest of a particular field or industry, aim to spend as much time as you can in and around it – interning, shadowing a position, reading up on the subject, and networking in the space. A gap year, done right, is not much of a ‘gap’ at all, but is instead a saturated time of learning, personal growth, and understanding
- Consider how you’ll pay for and afford your gap year long before you get to your gap year (no procrastination!). Gap years will certainly vary depending on the individual, but saving up, getting a job, or even setting a budget, will all be helpful. In some cases, a gap year program may offer work in exchange for a stipend.
- Know that there are some downsides and wrinkles to a gap year. Your high school friends will be entering college and university a year ahead of you – and while I often work with students to be proud and confident in their steps, inevitably (thanks to social media) students will compare themselves and feel disappointed if they feel that their gap year didn’t live up to expectations, or if they think they are missing out. A gap year delays the start of your work career in a competitive economy, and you’re financial aide package may change (if it’s still there at all!). Some students note that they felt that a gap year – and being out of an academic setting – made it tougher for them to get back into the swing of things academically when entering college.
- Talk it through with parents, teachers, coaches, advisors, counselors, friends. Inquire, listen, get advice, and weigh their thoughts in shaping your own. This is your life, and as this is a big decision, you want to do what’s right for you – consider the pros and cons, review your plan, think about the value you’d get from the experience. You want this gap year to be a valuable time in your life, geared toward your version of success in the future. This is your story, and you hold the pen - this will certainly be a memorable chapter.
LAC - Founder/Director
Founder - The College Essay Captain, and featured guest blogger here for LAC. It's her mission to inspire people to tell empowering stories.