If you have been contemplating taking a gap year, you have most likely been back and forth about it. You may be wondering how it will look on your resume: will potential employers see it as a sign you care about more than your education, or will they think you took a year off to travel the world and party? Can you afford it and how much will it cost you in the long run? If you take a year off from studying, will you be able to get back to it when you do get back home?
Recent research has shown that some colleges are starting to look at gap years quite favorably – they are interested to know how their potential students have spent their time off, and what they have learned from the experience. If you choose wisely, and do in fact more than travel the world and party, your gap year could be your ticket to the uni of your dreams.
Find work in the field you want to study
If you are looking to work during your gap year, be it at home or abroad, make sure the job you end up taking is relevant to the areas you want to study. Even if you volunteer, you will gain valuable experience that will help you in your future studies, but more importantly, it will help you when you start chasing a career after school.
Don’t go out of your way to spend
Having a year off may sound like a dream come true, and in many ways, it can be the best time of your youth. You have great things yet to accomplish both in your career and during your studies, but you already have a direction mapped out. However, don’t think this is the perfect time to live life to the fullest and take no heed of the future.
If you are traveling abroad, make use of last minute flights. Stay at a hostel and get to know new cultures and different people. Don’t fly down to the Bahamas and sip cocktails on the beach until you run out of money. You are taking the year to fill up on experiences, not hangovers.
Track your accomplishments
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you keep a record of the work you do and the volunteering hours you clock. You will need to be able to prove how you have spent the year, and having references from the people you’ve had the pleasure of working with will help a lot in painting a picture of your experiences. Make sure you end all work experiences on a positive note, and ask for a recommendation. Who knows, it may one day help you in landing your dream job.
Learn a skill you can convert
If you are not yet setting off to build a career – why not learn a skill you can later use as a freelancer? The Internet offers countless possibilities, and you can use hubs like Upwork to find jobs that can either pay for your gap year, your tuition, and which you can always fall back on. Whether it be data analysis, social media marketing or the rudimentaries of off page SEO, learn about something you are interested in and that you love doing. That way, you will always have a backup plan.
Get to know yourself
Ultimately, you should use your gap year to learn more about yourself. Will you be doing it by heading out across the globe to a foreign country all on your own, stepping out of your comfort zone in your home town, or trying to learn something new, don’t allow yourself to end the year without becoming a happier and more confident person. In fact, you are taking a year off to do something for yourself, and the rewards should be palpable.
Wherever you spend your gap year, we hope you make the most of it. Stay open-minded and aim to have a brand new experience every single day, not just of the year, both of all the coming years as well. Meet new people and acquire knowledge everywhere you go. When you get back to the track you have set out for yourself, use all these new skills to get ahead as best as you can.