Taking a gap year between high school and college can be very beneficial for development and stress management. There is a lot of real world experience that could get you ready for the challenges that come with college life.
What Is a Gap Year?
A gap year is a period of time when you take one year off between high school and college. There are a ton of different things that you can do to become a better person and become more well-rounded.
Traveling during your gap year is an amazing way to spend a month to a full year experiencing a different culture. There are multiple companies that will help you find a host family, set up your flights and accommodations, and guide you throughout the experience. You can also do all of this by finding websites that talk about the country that you are visiting. There is so much information on the internet that explains how and where to travel while saving as much money as you can.
You will gain a lot of valuable life experience that will allow you to excel in college. Once you get to experience other cultures and be independent while traveling the world, you will have a whole different perspective on your education and how to spend your free time. You will also have experience that you can talk about at college and job interviews.
This is definitely one of the best ways to spend your gap year. You will come out with a whole different opinion on the world and whatever situation that you are currently in. You will need a lot of planning and enough money to cover the trip. Some people who travel find a place to work in the location that they are staying and it helps to have spending money and work experience.
Getting a job after high school is another great way to spend your gap year. College is extremely expensive and the debt that you accumulate over your 2 or more years can take years to pay off. If you are able to save up a lot of the money that you make in your gap year you will be able to put it towards tuition. You could also realize that you do not want to go to a traditional 4 year college. There are a ton of college alternatives that you can look into pursuing.
Working will also help you grow your skills and will make you more prepared for college. No matter what job you have, you get to practice a lot of basic skills that you will need to work on during college. This can include:
- Public Speaking
- Decision Making
These skills make you a much stronger candidate for whatever school or job you apply for in the future. Many students who go straight into college do not have the opportunity to get real-world experience and will take a much longer time to gain these vital skills.
Figure Out What You Want To Study/Do
In your gap year you will have a lot of time to really think about what you want to study and how you want to spend the rest of your working life. Being told to decide what you want to do as a 17 or 18 year old with no real idea of the working world is a very scary thing. About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major in college at least once, which can cause them to graduate later than expected. Many people end up having to stay at least one extra year to fulfill all of the required classes to graduate in the new major that they chose.
Students also transfer when they rush into college and realize that they either went to a school that was too challenging, too far away, or not the right fit for them. This costs a lot of time, money, and effort that could have been avoided if you spent some extra time planning for your college experience. This setback will make it even harder to pay off student debt and will make it so you take even longer to enter the workforce.
Volunteering is a great way to spend the extra time that you have. There are local, national, and international volunteering opportunities that you could look into. Each one is going to need different levels of commitment and cost to you or an organization that sponsors you.
Local volunteering requires minimum commitment because it is usually done in a single day and does not require special training. This could be done by anyone who has a free weekend or a few days off. You could help build houses for those who struggle to make ends meet, work for a soup kitchen, or spend time reading to students. This is great for your resume and helps the community.
National volunteering takes more commitment and will usually require some type of donation or expense. This can be to cover travel, food, equipment, and any other items that will aide you in your volunteering efforts. A great example of this is traveling for a week or longer with Habitat for Humanity. They do amazing work for those in need and will cover as much of your trip as possible.
International volunteering is a very time consuming and expensive trip if you need to pay for expenses. There are a ton of awesome mission trips that will allow you to help fix villages, treat sick people from other countries, and teach children how to speak English and help them get ready to move to America. These opportunities can be life-changing and will really separate you from the rest of your peers.
Taking a gap year in college could be a super beneficial move that could save you a lot of time and money in the long run. There are definitely pros and cons to it, but you should definitely figure out if waiting a year is the right decision for you. If I could go back I would probably have waited a year so that I would have a better opportunity to make more informed decisions. I was the youngest one in my graduating class so I could have waited a year and would have been the same age as most of the other students.
If you do decide to take a gap year make sure you do not waste it. It is a strategic move that should be capitalized on. If you think that staying out of a classroom for a full year will make it difficult to get back into it and will hinder your performance then you should apply to college and spend at least one full year learning. If it isn’t for you, you could also drop out and continue later in life or do something else that does not require a college degree. There are so many opportunities to be successful without a degree as long as you put the time in to find something that makes you happy and allows you to live the life you want to live.
Is is possible to start college half way through the academic year?
Many colleges are looking for students to apply and enroll in the spring semester. Many students either transfer or go abroad in the spring semester so there are vacant dorm rooms and classroom seats that they look to fill.
Should I take a gap year in the middle of college?
There are a bunch of different reasons why you would want to take a gap year after you are enrolled in college and have completed a semester or more. There are financial, personal (family), and mental issues that arise and cause students to take time off.
How do I prepare for college once I get accepted?
Before going to college you need to buy all of the items for your dorm or apartment, schedule the classes that are going to allow you to succeed, and create a plan to make money so that you can be aggressive when you are paying off loans.
I created a great resource that demonstrates 13 different side hustles that will allow you to make extra money while being a full time student! Hustling on the side will allow you to get out of debt and allow you to build wealth faster.