Submitted by ContinueLearning_AC
Maximizing your gap year to the fullest requires careful planning and scheduling. You can still use it as a period to recharge, though there’s always a concern that students can easily get sidetracked. Get the most out of your gap year by formulating a plan that establishes clear and detailed goals.
Realistically speaking, finalizing these plans might take time, especially if students are hard at work balancing exams and college applications. Still, there are many ways around it. A+ Tutoring recommends applying executive function skills to help sharpen your multitasking.
Setting predefined goals sets the tone for your gap year, and it’s important to change your perspective. Rather than thinking about everything you can do during this period, focus instead on a few experiences that can be beneficial for your future growth. So with that in mind, the following tips are based on this mindset.
- Get a job – Bustle suggests finding a job that’s closest to the industry in which you want to work. You may discover that you like the concept of the career you want rather than the actual profession. If you like the work, then that will be to your advantage, as it will provide you with the drive to learn more and work harder. As an added bonus, you’ll earn money that will help you pay for college expenses.
- Take an online course – You can check out your local community college for classes or online courses. Maryville University highlights that online courses allow students to take charge of how they learn without the extra textbook/supplies expenses involved. Another advantage is that these courses can give you extra college credit and some extra breathing space for your future college schedule.
- Prepare for dorm life – Many students move out of their parent’s homes and into a dormitory at the end of their gap year. This big decision comes with its own requirements: they have to learn how to do the laundry, cook meals, open/manage their own bank account, and attend to other domestic matters. These are life skills that are applicable beyond college. Learning them is a must, and you should take charge to train yourself for this aspect of college life even when you're still living with your parents. That's certainly better than being thrown into college without knowing how to be responsible and self-empowered.
- Travel around the world – Learning to be independent will come in handy if you decide to live abroad and work for a while. You will get exposure to different cultures and perspectives that will expand your horizons. New and unfamiliar experiences will build your confidence and maturity.
- Volunteer for a cause – If you've always had the urge to volunteer but never had the time to get involved, now is the time. You will get a sense of fulfillment from making a difference in people’s lives. It may even factor into what type of job you want. Volunteering might help you hit four birds with one stone: helping a community, getting a job, traveling, and learning to be independent. Needless to say, it adds value to your resume.
- Take an actual break – You may be burned out from the last years of high school, but the last thing you should do in a gap year is destroy the momentum of activity you’ve been maintaining. Your brain still needs to be engaged in worthwhile pursuits. For example, if you like art, you can make crafts and sell them. You can learn the basics of operating a business via firsthand experience, which is another valuable life skill. It is okay to steer clear of studying; just stay productive and be mindful of your goals.
- Pursue a passion – Similar to volunteering, perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to do outside of the academic realm. Maybe you've always dreamed about camping with a survival expert; or you could simply stay at home to practice your culinary skills. CNBC mentions that a gap year is the opportunity to work on your goals. Like anything in a gap year, though, these types of projects should have actual output and you should gain new skills and experiences out of it.
- Re-evaluate your life goals – It’s important to remember that once you attend college, there’s no turning back. You need to decide if the choices you are making will be the right ones for you. It’s highly recommended that you integrate all these suggestions when you plan this pivotal year in your life. One year should be enough time to figure it all out.
These are all the steps necessary for you to achieve your career objectives. At the end of your gap year, you should take stock of all your experiences and weigh what you learned. Apply all the wisdom you acquired so you can proceed to the next stage without having to second-guess yourself.