Life Skill: Taking Full Advantage of Your Gap Year!
While originally traditionally more of a European thing, the idea of a gap year has really gained steam in the United States, as well, and many students swear by it. While a year off from high school can be a good thing, and many report transformational gap years that made them more successful later in life, that isn’t a guarantee. If you want a gap year to really make a difference then it is crucial to do something different, something intentional, and not just hang around for a year.
I had my gap year after I graduated from College, and after I resigned from one company to another, and I would like to think that helped me become more prepared in the new challenges and changes.
Look at the following options as some of the best ideas for what to do with a good gap year.
Programs like AmeriCorps are a prime example of getting young volunteers to places where they can do an enormous amount of good. Look for places where you can volunteer, ideally as part of a program out of your comfort zone to force you to grow, adapt, and learn what it’s like to be immersed in a new environment. If you can do this all while making a difference and padding the resume, all the better!
Learn Important Life Skills
Far too many students end up in college without basic skills that become essential…and can
even become a side hustle for you if you have basic skills other college students don’t. Cooking without a microwave, laundry, balancing your bank accounts, planning grocery runs, sewing, budgeting – all of these are important skills and this just scratches the surface of skills you’ll need in college and beyond.
Volunteering abroad is a great option for a gap year. You can be immersed in a foreign language, learn about another culture, do good work, have really radical new experiences, and broaden your world view all at the same time. There is a seemingly endless array of options out there and volunteering abroad lets you travel, meet new people, pick up those skills, and put an impressive gem on the resume all at the same time.
This don’t even go into the fact that you are likely to have many memories that will last a lifetime, and you may even discover a new passion along the way! Volunteering abroad is an absolutely fantastic way to spend a gap year!
Consciously Choose a Short-Term Job
Need to save money or want to save up for a true travel vacation prior to college? Working for a
year isn’tt a bad way to go, but be conscious about what you do. Consider a true sales job to develop that always in demand skill, find an entry level job in a field you might be interested in to learn more, choose a job you know you dislike but pays well to save money and motivate you to college.
Or do something completely wild like joining the circus. No joke – this is the type of resume
attention grabber that can get your foot in the door for a college, job interview, or future
graduate school program just to hear about that story!
Tackle a Big Creative Project
Had an idea that was Burning Man worthy? Whether or not you actually head out to the Nevada desert this is a great time in life to embrace doing something big and bold. Hit people up for
funding, practice turning your ideas into real art, and create something tangible. Whether it’s creating the first draft of a novel (then learning how to revise a manuscript), creating an independent film, or creating a place of wonder due to sculptures, statues, or hidden projects, there are so many ways to bring the creative into reality and that can not only get attention but really help you discover the artist within.
Learn Verifiable Skills
There are many skills that can lead to jobs, hobbies, or are just passions. Love diving? Why not become certified as a SCUBA diving instructor? Why not spend a year honing woodworking skills and even selling your crafts at local fairs or shows? Learn to play an instrument, take cooking classes to become an amazing cook, teach others how to ski, learn primitive survival skills, or become an old school machinist who learns how engines work. There are many incredible skills out there, and taking the time to learn something tangible and real world skill related is never a waste of time.
Some of these options can certainly be combined, and by consciously looking at how you’re
going to spend a gap year, you will be sure to get the most out of every single day of that time!