The Gap Year: Taking Time Off Before College

Some high school students may decide to take a year off after graduating before enrolling in college. Reasons could vary from a desire to travel the world, the curiosity of dipping their toes into the workforce, the uncertainty of their academic or financial direction, or another personal reason. If done with the right intentions, taking a break can contribute to personal development and growth, and provide high school graduates with a fresh perspective outside of school.

Considering a gap year? Keep the following pointers in mind to make the best of it!

Making the Most of a Gap Year

If you are goal-oriented and disciplined, you may benefit from taking a year off before picking up where you left off with school. Students embarking on a gap year may take a step back to recharge from the daily stressors that come with the academic grind, and evaluate their academic direction and professional goals. Planning ahead can be a good thing, especially for those who don’t feel comfortable jumping into things blindly.

After taking some time to think things through, students often get a better idea of what they want to pursue in college and their future career, without already having shelled out thousands of dollars in college mindlessly taking courses that may not contribute to a timely graduation. That being said, with enough motivation, organization, and a sense of self, a gap year can be life-changing for the better – and economical, too!

During the gap year, high school graduates may also obtain valuable work experience that can help them build a strong resume for the future. Getting into the workforce can result in increased maturity and focus, both of which are critical for success at competitive colleges. Finally, getting a part-time or full-time job after high school provides college-bound students an opportunity to save up for tuition and university expenses.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Gap Year

While taking a gap year can be a valuable experience in itself for many, it can quickly become unproductive for those who are taking it for the wrong reasons or don’t have some sort of concrete plan for the future. For example, students that do not develop important habits may lose focus and fall out of the academic routine. Waiting too long can also put people in a situation where they lose touch and access to critical peer support and scholarship resources that they may have received out of high school.

To avoid regressing as a result of taking a gap year, it is smart to take some time to outline some sort of future plan that will keep you on track for success. Think about whether you want to eventually go back to school, when you plan to go back, potential career paths, and where you want to be in life for the long-haul. Planning for the future can be intimidating, but doing so is an imperative step in helping future professionals make the most of their gap year.

Final Thoughts

Making a rough map of your future after high school graduation can be monumental in keeping you on track for success, whether you choose to take a gap year or not. Still not sure what you want to do? Remember that there are plenty of free resources for college-bound students in case you find yourself needing guidance and direction. For example, you may reach out to high school counselors, admissions representatives, alumni from a respectable school, and even seek advice from your parents or peers. Taking a gap year before committing to another four years of rigorous schooling can be productive as long as you analyze and continually work towards your long-term goals.