More and more students are considering taking a gap year. It can be a great chance to make some extra money, gain experience, and learn more about yourself before you make a big decision, like committing to college or a certain career path.
Gap years are becoming so common now that many colleges and universities encourage them. Harvard and Princeton have their own service gap-year programs or are willing to defer enrollment and provide financial packages that include gap-year funding.
The trick to ensuring your gap year activities are both productive and fun is to remain intentional with your travels. Whether that’s sitting and observing a culture different than your own, participating in a local ritual, trying new foods, or stepping outside of your comfort zone, take on each activity with an open mind and heart.
Approach your gap year as an opportunity to learn something new and grow as an individual. You (and your resume) will thank yourself later. Here are 8 ways to make the most of your time!
1. Study Abroad
Who said study abroad programs are just for college students? Gap year study abroad programs are a brilliant way to earn some college credits before starting your college journey. A study abroad gap year is the perfect way to get your feet wet with school while still having the travel experience and adventure you expect from a gap year. With seemingly limitless countries to go to and courses to take, the toughest part will simply be choosing.
Keep in mind though, colleges can be strict about what credits they accept and if you aren’t sure what school you’re going to yet, it’s hard to know ahead of time if the classes you take will count down the line. Here’s a good list of gap year study abroad programs.
2. Teach Abroad
Access to education is a major concern in many countries around the world. Lack of teachers is one of the contributing factors, and as a result, many children lack basic education. If you’re passionate about education and enjoy working with children, you will have a lasting impact on the children you teach in these gap year teach abroad programs.
3. Journalism Experience
Journalism is a classic way to combine tangible work experience with learning the ins and outs of a new culture. After all, what other job requires you to do research on your new home in order to succeed? A journalism internship abroad is a sure way to set you up for success in your journalism career. Channel your creativity into productivity and build your writing/photography portfolio with exciting pieces from around the world.Although journalism can be a lot of work with little to no compensation, taking a gap year to travel can help you to gain exotic journalism experience. If news coverage and storytelling lights a spark in your soul and you’re ready to globalize your skills, what better way to develop your career than these gap year journalism programs.
Travel is a terrific tool for educating yourself about the world, especially if you have the resources.
If your budget allows, a gap year is the perfect time to see the world. Cultural experiences add to your life and help shape you as a person.
Though certainly thrilling and packed with fun, gap year adventure programs are not always as strong of a resume booster as other things to do on a gap year. Don’t use your gap year as an extended spring break vacation or you’ll find yourself a year down the road with nothing to show for it.
Potential employers and universities likely want to see you balance adventure with life skills you learn along the way. Here’s a list of gap year adventure programs that will help you make the most of your gap year.
5. Hands-On Learning
If you learn better by doing rather than sitting in a classroom,a gap year can be your chance to actually try something that interests you, whether it’s a potential career or just something you want to learn more about.
It can be a great time to discover something brand new or learn more about something you already love while working, interning, volunteering, or studying in a new way. Don’t settle for traditional academics, take your learning to the next level with a hands on volunteer position.
Many programs like these, tailor your placement based upon your passions and work with you to help you grow throughout your journey.
Want to take your gap year and make money while doing it? You can always take a gap year job. There are tons of cool gap year jobs that will make you feel like you’re not even working. Learning a new skill can propel you to the next level in your career goals.
Ideally, you could try a paid internship in the field of your choice. If you decide to work at an internship, opportunities like this will help you establish relationships with professionals who can help you out later. You will have plenty of time after college to pursue a career, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for a job during your gap year to help make a little extra cash. Any job that helps you learn a skill, make extra money and make connections will help you in the long run. Take a look at all the gap year jobs.
7. Language Immersion
We all know that learning a language is hard, oftentimes a classroom setting is not conducive for learning a new language. Diving into using the language daily is the best way to learn and it doesn’t even feel like you’re learning. Gap year language programs allow you to learn more in less time than a traditional classroom experience. For example, Spanish is a highly desirable language in many countries given the number of countries that speak Spanish. You could immerse yourself in Spanish culture and language by taking a Spanish gap year and you’re sure to be grateful you did. Language learning like shopping in the market or taking art classes double as meaningful gap year activities and are extra fun! Take a look to get started in gap year language immersion programs here.
Music is an incredible art. Gap year music programs are a great opportunity to learn about music in another culture while expanding your own repertoire. Consider filling your gap year activities with music-oriented projects, like teaching kids how to play instruments or studying ethno-musicology in Mali.
Cultures around the world have been playing music since the beginning of time. What you’ve been exposed to is just a small slice of the music out there. Open your eyes (and ears) to something different than what you’re familiar with and walk away a better musician for life with these gap year music programs.
A life-changing gap year experience can be the answer for someone who wonders,”What should I do after high school?”
Parents, teens, and educators can’t say enough about the benefits of taking a gap year before college. Study abroad gap years are common, but work experience programs and gap years in America are growing in popularity.
Is a gap program after high school right for you? With so many programs out there, it can be hard to know which one to choose. Do your research to find the best gap year program for you. If you’re interested in learning more about professional development check out the Meratas blog!