After graduating from high school, you may consider taking a break before post-secondary education for multiple reasons. In the United States, approximately 60% of high school students report feelings of negativity toward school, including tiredness, stress, and boredom.
After high school, you can take a year off to gain real-world experience and figure out what you want to do next. A gap year benefits your personal development while also helping you prepare for college and your career.
Improved Academic Performance
Taking a year off between high school and college can help you gain a new perspective on the world. A 2013 study found that when gap years are used constructively, they can improve grades and enhance academic skills.
By meeting new people and pursuing unique learning opportunities, you have the opportunity to learn about perspectives different from your own. These experiences can influence your academic performance by allowing you to be empathetic and understand the topics discussed in class.
Opportunities to Meet New People
Making new people outside of the classroom is a fantastic way to develop lifelong friendships. A gap year allows you to form connections based on shared experiences and interests rather than the circumstantiality of being classmates.
These friendships help you learn communication skills that can benefit you in college and your professional career. You can meet new people through local hobby groups and nonprofit organizations.
If you decide to participate in a group travel tour, you can connect with fellow travelers looking for new experiences. Your friendships may turn into valuable business relationships, helping you expand your professional network.
Develop a Sense of Independence
You may want to take a gap year to learn essential life skills like being independent and creating your schedule. Learning how to be self-sufficient and responsible benefits you in college and throughout your life.
There are many ways to spend your gap year that provide you with useful life skills. If there is a Toastmasters club nearby, attend their meetings and practice public speaking. You can ask friends and family members to conduct mock interviews with you and give you feedback. Start a small business such as dog sitting to learn how to run a company and develop customer service and financial management skills.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Traveling during your gap can help you see what the world offers. There is a lot to see and do around the world, including talking with new people, visiting historical sites, and trying local delicacies.
According to one study by researchers at Columbia Business School, taking part in unique travel experiences can help you develop your creative skills and engage better with the world.
You can find gap year programs catering to many interests, from environmental conservation to language immersion to adventure travel. These experiences may influence your academic interests and your potential career path.
Time to Volunteer
A gap year gives you the time to participate in volunteering activities to benefit your future career and give back to a community. Volunteering with local nonprofit organizations can help you develop practical skills and connect with members of your community while contributing to a worthwhile cause.
Nursing homes and hospices need volunteers to provide companionship to senior citizens. If you are well-versed in graphic design, you can help design images and brochures for nonprofit organizations wishing to grow their online presence. These opportunities are a fantastic way to learn about local issues and how you can make an impact in your community.
Explore New Careers Through Internships
You can develop a wide range of skills to become more employable during your gap year—students who took a gap year report higher rates of job satisfaction.
An internship can help you learn about the working world before committing to your academic program. You can decide which career is best for you through an internship while gaining practical work experience. Structured gap year programs with internships can help you explore potential career paths abroad.
Try New Jobs
If you’re unsure what you want to achieve from your gap year, consider looking for contract jobs. You can make some money while gaining new experiences and developing various skills in short periods. Look for seasonal jobs that do not require a long-term commitment.
You may find temporary work as a retail sales associate or a delivery driver during the holiday season. You can become a temporary event staff member for a convention center or music festival.
Remember to document your time spent during your gap year for discussion with college admission staff members. You can list your temporary jobs and volunteer experiences from your gap year on your resume. A personal website showing your gap year experiences can positively impact your future employers.
Taking a Gap Year is Beneficial
Using your gap year to improve your skills is a fantastic way to learn about yourself and the world. JobsFuel can connect you to local opportunities to kick off your gap year. We offer free resources to learn about starting your job search, including interview tips and preparing your application.