After high school, there is always the question of whether or not you should take a year off. Some people like to go right off to college or university because they are excited to move forward with their future, but then there are a select few who recognize that once college starts, you will be propelled into a life of responsibility. College or university is at least four years of your life where you will have to focus on your studies and once you graduate, you will then begin your career. Sometimes taking a year off can give you some perspective not only on who you are as a person, but what you want from the rest of your life.
Taking a year off from college is becoming the norm and it can be beneficial to your growth as a human. We’re not talking about spending the year watching Netflix — there are plenty of great things that you can do during your year that will enrich your life and look great on your resume. Check out these 10 reasons why you should take a gap year and 20 things you could be doing during that time.
30 Why: You Will Perform Better in University
One worry that students have is that the university of their choice might not like the fact that they took a year off. That’s just not the case.
In fact, most schools have reported that they have noticed that gap-year students tend to have a higher GPA and become more involved on campus.
It’s likely because you had the opportunity to refresh after the high school experience. The dean’s attitude is usually favorable when it comes to the gap year.
29 What to Do: Connect With Nature
Take some time for yourself and connect with nature. You don’t have to take a week-long camping trip unless you want to. But connecting with nature can be one of the most soul-cleansing things you could do. “Get back to nature for a while. No make-up. No technology. No worries. Let your only concern be food, a place to sleep, and any other ‘natural’ urges that won’t get you arrested,” says Sharon Wheeler, a gap year student.
28 What to Do: Adventure Travel
There are actually gap-year adventure programs that you can become involved in that can help you get out of your comfort zone, keep you on your toes, and throw you into a completely different environment that you are used to. These adventures are meant to be the experience of a lifetime. Plus, there is no work in planning the adventure, you just pick your destination and the rest is planned out for you.
27 Why: You Are Feeling Burnt Out
The four years of high school that you go through can be a stressful time, especially if you are an academic student who kept their grades up the entire time. It is easy for students to feel burnt out after high school. It can be very beneficial to take the year off to refresh yourself before you get back into the academic life. You can spend the year travelling or gaining new skills to propel you forward in life.
26 What to Do: Become A Nanny Abroad
Sometimes, embracing a new culture can not only give you a brand new experience, and a great way to do it is to get a nanny gig abroad. You get yourself a host family and you get to live and work with them. You work to help the kids learn English and it can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — you're basically getting paid to live in another country for free . At the same time, you would be learning about a new culture and discovering a new language. All the food and accommodations are provided, plus you would be earning a living.
25 What to Do: Go Skydiving
One thing you should do during your time off is experience something you would never have done before. Skydiving can be a freeing experience, especially if you've been a bundle of stress for the past four years. Experiencing new things is a great way for you to grow as a person. “Challenge yourself by doing things you wouldn’t normally do – skydive,” says Fingfang, a gap-year student. It certainly couldn’t hurt to try.
24 Why: You Will Know What You Want
One problem with starting school right away is that you may not know what you want. A common occurrence happens when a student picks an area of study and then realizes they don’t like it and they have to move into a different major. Sometimes, it happens more than once. By taking some time off, you can figure out what you really want and then when you get to college, you will be on the right track.
23 What to Do: Take A Road Trip
You don’t even need to have a destination in mind. Just pack some essentials, get in the car, set your GPS, and check out the rest of your country. We would suggest taking a friend or family member with you, but lots of people have taken trips alone before. Just be careful, you don’t want to end up like Thelma and Louise. “Purposefully get lost – leave the plans at home and just wander off (but maybe have enough cash to get back to where you need to be!),” said Piglet, a gap-year student.
22 What to Do: Be A Camp Counsellor
We’re sure it’s not going to end up like kids in Friday the 13th. In fact, becoming a camp counsellor can be a lot of fun. You can try it out in your own country or venture off to another one. Either way, you are sure to create some incredible memories along the way. You will have the opportunity to make new friends and spark some of your own creativity. It would definitely be a great thing to have on your resume when it’s all said and done.
21 Why: You Get to Travel While You Are Young
Some people don’t realize how important it is to travel when you are young until they are swamped in responsibility. Imagine travelling when you are 18 or 19? You get to experience the world at your prime. You get to see what traveling the world is like before mortgage payments come around. It’s truly a life-changing experience. “After a month of travelling, if you’re still following the plan you made when you were back at home, then you’re doing it wrong,” said Warrick, a gap-year student.
20 What to Do: Let Your Hair Down
Sometimes, taking a year off just means having the ability to have fun without the worry of literally anything. Do something you’d never do at home around your friends, whether that involves making new friends in another country, getting a tattoo, spending some time in the jungle, or facing your fears whatever they might be. Don't be afraid to come out of your shell. Remember, you're in a city where no one knows you, so take advantage of it.
19 What to Do: Hands-On Learning
If you are a visual learner or learn better when you are working with your hands, then you would probably benefit from an experimental learning gap-year program. You get to develop skills that you would never be able to experience in the classroom. The skills you learn in these programs would be useful for your entire life, it might even help you to survive the zombie apocalypse. Admit it, it’s inevitable.
18 Why: It Will Look Great On Your Resume
Sure, if you do spend the year at the beach and watching Netflix, then you may find that you wasted your time off, but if you spend the year learning a new skill or discovering a new culture, then that can really make your resume stand out. Some graduate schools are actually looking for people who have developed new skills from a gap year. Sometimes, that can be more impressive than the 16 years of straight education.
17 What to Do: Do an Internship
Doing an internship is the best thing you can do for your resume. It’s a chance for you to build relationships in the industry of your choice, plus you can learn some news kills that can help you down the line. There are even gap-year internships that you can do in another country. Imagine interning in Paris and talking about that experience in a job interview. It doesn’t matter what you're interested in, there will be a program out there for you.
16 What to Do: Get your PADI Open Water Certificate
With this certification, you can dive anywhere you want in the world. You could travel as part of your gap year. Take the course and then travel to many destinations and experience what it means to explore in deep-diving waters. You get to see crystal-clear waters filled with sea life. The certification is something you can take with you throughout your life and as you are swimming in aquamarine waters and seeing a rainbow of creatures, you can take those memories with you.
15 Why: You Will Know What’s Really Important to You
That happens a lot with students who go straight from high school to college is that they don’t know what’s truly important in their lives. They tend to learn these things later on in life. By taking a gap year, you have an opportunity to find out what is important to you before most people do. College is a great experience, but it can be easy to mistake your fraternity or even your high school boyfriend or girlfriend as being the center of your universe. A crisis at that point could make you feel like the world is ending. But after traveling the world for a year, you might discover that those things really aren’t as important as you thought they were.
14 What to Do: Start doing Yoga
You may wonder what the big deal is with yoga, but it’s considered to be an exercise that is not only great for you physically, but also for your mindset. A lot of people have “found themselves” through the art of yoga. There are lots of yoga activities going on in any city and there are even some outdoor events. It’s something you can get involved in if you are traveling as well. Try doing yoga in another country and see how it differs from your own.
13 What to Do: Go For A Walk With A Puma
Yes, we are talking about the wildcats. If you want something a little more exciting to do during your year off, then you can go to Bolivia and walk with puma cats. They have volunteer programs that allow you to go to an animal refugee and literally walk the wildcats and take care of them. That definitely sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get to do it right in the jungle. Why wouldn’t you want to do something this cool?
12 Why: You Will Be Able to Adapt to Anything
This works if you've decided to travel during your time, go to another country to learn the culture or intern somewhere. When you are forced to integrate into a different culture or society, you learn to adapt to new experiences pretty easily. When you go to college, you also have to learn to adapt to a new situation. You will be able to adapt to the changes that are occurring in college because you decided to take a gap year.
11 What to Do: Learn How to Make A Film
There are literally thousands of ways that you can learn on your year off. One of which is learning how to make an art film. There are summer schools that take place in New York and you can learn the art of making a film. Now, how cool is that? Not only can you learn how to make a film at The NY Film Academy, but you can explore New York while you're there.
10 What to Do: Get A Job Abroad
If traveling around the world isn’t financially possible, then you could always see the world by working abroad. There are literally hundreds of gap-year jobs you can get that will not feel like work at all. You will feel free in another country while making some money that could go toward your college experience. You will gain some experience, see some cool places, and make some money, what more could you want?
9 Why: You Will Have More to Talk About
When you do arrive at college, you can avoid having the same old conversations like “where are you from” or “what’s your major.” Instead, you can completely rock the “what did you do this summer” question. Imagine the stories you can tell about all the things you did during your gap year. Plus, you will be a young adult with a little more culture and experience in your pocket. You can share your opinions about the places and ideas that your new friends may have never heard of.
8 What to Do: Learn a New Language
One great thing you could do on your time off is to learn a new language. This is something you can use for the rest of your life. Your future employers will love the fact that you can speak another language. The more languages you speak, the better chances you have of landing a great job. The best part is, you can go to another country to learn the language which is better than just doing an online course.
7 What to Do: Learn How to cook
Learning your way around the kitchen is a great skill to have, and what better way to do that than learning how to cook a different cuisine from actual locals? If you are heading to Italy to do some traveling, then why not learn how to make some ice cream? You can actually take courses in Sorrento. One of the best parts of going to Italy is to eat gelato and how great would it be to learn how to make it by the masters? Don't be afraid to try different foods while you're travelling. Even if you don't end up liking it, at least you tried.
6 Why: You Can Pick Up What You Missed In High School
You could use your gap year to pick up on things that you missed in high school and why not? “Slept through every Spanish class? Head to Argentina for your gap year, where you'll be forced to speak the language every day. Wish you knew more history? Spend time touring government buildings in Europe. A gap year is your time to refine the specific skills you feel like you’re lacking and sharpen them up for college.” (HuffPost) That actually sounds a little fun.
5 What to Do: Work in Medicine
If a career in medicine is what you are looking for, then why not get involved in a medical gap year program. It’s seriously a thing and they let you go to underserved populations where you can learn about medicine. Not only will you learn but you can serve while you are there. It would look amazing on your resume when you eventually apply to medical school. Plus, it would definitely give you some idea about whether it was really what you want.
4 What to Do: Learn how to play an instrument
Music usually starts off in our lives as something fun but if you find you are still interested in music after high school, it might be a more serious venture for you. There are also music gap year programs that allow you to learn about music in another country. There is no better country than Spain to learn about the culture of music. It would definitely be the experience of a lifetime.
3 Why: It Will Give You Time to Think
You just graduated from high school and you only have a few months before you move on to college. It’s hardly time to even catch your breath. The great thing about taking a year off is that it gives you a chance to breath. You will have time to think through things and take a break before you go off to college. It would be awesome to travel from country to country by train and just be able to clear your mind of everything.
2 What to Do: Become A Ski Instructor
Seriously, where do we sign up? If you love to ski and want to visit new places at the same time, then why not become a ski instructor during your gap year. It could not only bring in some money for you but imagine all the fun that you will have. It might even turn into your dream career. There are actually gap year ski instructor course that you can take in Canada or Europe. It will be a lot of fun to help other people learn how to ski.
1 What to Do: Train to Be A Surfer
It just might be the coolest job in the world. Imagine spending your gap year surfing the waves in some pretty incredible places. You could do a three-month surfing course and then spend the rest of the year teaching people to surf. You will make some money during your gap year and have the time of your life. It would also be a great way to make new friends and you would have a hell of a story to tell people when your year ended.