How to Make the Most of Your Gap Year

You’ve made the big decision to take a gap year, and it’s time to create a plan to make the most of this experience. It’s key to remember that a gap year isn’t simply a time for relaxing and having fun. Instead, it’s to explore various interests you may have in order to start the next step of your life on the right foot. Examine what you really hope to get out of this year, and sit down to establish a plan to accomplish it. You can make the most of your gap year by choosing smart travel destinations and finding creative ways to document your experience.

Create a plan to capitalize on your gap year

Once you decide to take a gap year, the next step is to plan how you’ll fill the time. Your gap year technically begins the summer after high school graduation, so make the most of every second you have. If you’ve decided to travel or volunteer abroad, you may have a set time frame for these actions that was determined by an external source. If you’re staying home to pursue work opportunities and to save money for college, you may need to exercise your planning skills a bit more. Consider questions such as:

  • How will you fill the time when you’re not working in a way that will further your goals?

  • Can you volunteer or pursue a new hobby that you haven’t had time to try in the past?

Once you’ve decided how to fill your time and have established specific goals for your gap year, create a detailed agenda to help hold yourself accountable.

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Choose a smart gap year travel destination

Make sure the travel destination you choose for your gap year will expand your knowledge in areas that are specifically helpful to your future goals. If you think a particular language will be useful in your prospective career, consider spending time somewhere that will immerse you in that language and culture. There are certain careers that you can do almost anywhere in the world, so put some thought into the location you choose and examine how it may come into play later down the road.

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Seek out relevant job experiences during your gap year

Since the goal of a gap year is to gain valuable experience, it may be ideal to find work opportunities that fit with your future career goals. For example, if you’re eventually headed to law school, seek out work as an assistant at a law firm to give yourself a taste of the environment. Additionally, you may make connections with people who will be valuable resources later, especially if you impress them with your work ethic. If you want to become a teacher, find an opportunity to work with children and discover what age groups you might want to gear your studies toward. The experience you’ll gain is valuable, but perhaps even more so is the chance to get real world experience before you commit to a college major.

Find a way to document your gap year experiences

A great way to showcase to potential school administrators what you accomplished during your gap year is to find a way to document your experience. Options could include starting a blog or creating a special social media account detailing your gap year activities. You will both preserve your memories and establish a clear location that others can reference to learn what your gap year meant to you.

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