If you are currently a senior in high school, you are going through the stressful college application process. What was something that never crossed my mind during the beginning of my senior year of high school? A gap year.
The idea of taking a year off from school does not cross the minds of most seniors eagerly applying to college. It’s existence may be known, but a gap year is not followed through by most. It feels natural to attend college right after graduating from high school, but it is important to ask yourself if this path is right for you.
My parents were initially hesitant about my year off from school, but it was not hard to convince them that a gap year would add tremendous value to my studies and life. I assured my parents that I would make the most of a gap year and that it would be a productive year. I was fortunate that my family was extremely supportive of my decision, and everyone was excited to see what I would do.
What is missing from the natural path however is a breath or even a couple breaths to take a step back and think about your journey. One of my initial concerns was the perception of taking a gap year. I was worried that a gap year may appear to detract from my path of studies and achievement. However, I became reassured that a gap year would only enrich my path after having several conversations with my family, guidance counselor, and teachers.
I was also concerned that I would be missing out on college and feeling connected to my friends going off the college. However, when I thought more about this, I remember getting advice from my high school principal that in hindsight, this is only one year of my life. In the moment, I may have been concerned about missing out on college, but in the future, when looking back on this point in my life, I may be able to appreciate this year for myself even more.
If you have made the decision to dive into a gap year, you may be thinking “Now what am I going to do? Here are some ideas:
A great way to gain some real life experience is through obtaining an internship. This gives you the opportunity to pursue an interest or field of study that you may be drawn to, and may even help you decide what you want to study in college.
You will be able gain some professional experience, build your network and references by meeting incredible people, and also build upon your own portfolio. You can additionally obtain a job to earn some money for your future, and this can be combined with an internship, depending on if it is a paid or unpaid position.tra
Nothing is more rewarding than the feeling you have after helping others and making a difference, regardless of size or scale. You can volunteer in your own community, or go outside your hometown and volunteer somewhere out in the world!
Perhaps you have wanted to accomplish a personal goal or had a special project that you wanted to do during high school but did not have the time. Now on your gap year, you have that time to work on a passion project to build your skills and portfolio . This could be photography, a writing project, learning a new instrument, or even learning a new language!
One of the best ways to go outside of your comfort zone out into the world and learn more about yourself is through travel. It is very possible to travel on a budget, while going on an adventure of a lifetime and diving deep into different cultures of the world! This is the perfect option for an experience that will allow you to grow as a person and gain some independence.
Traveling abroad opens yourself to new views of the world, with exposure to new foods, languages, and cultures that maybe you have never knew much about. A gap year gives you time to actually think about and give you a better idea about what you want to do in your future. High school does not provide students with time to ask themselves what they like and what they’re passionate about. Travel can provide a great window of opportunity for this, and this is especially valuable before starting college.
If you decide that taking a gap year is the right choice for you, I would advise that you still apply to college in the fall of your senior year of high school. All universities do not have a deferral policy, so you must determine if your desired school(s) has a deferral policy or not. It is best to apply to college in the fall of your senior year if you are considering a gap year because this way you will not stress out about applying to colleges during your gap year.
The beauty of a gap year is that it is yours to mold and plan. You can easily combine any of these ideas! A gap year is not for every student, you may want to go straight into college or maybe the thought of doing something different excites you!
Curious to learn how a gap year changed my life? Check out How Study Abroad With EdOdyssey Prepared Me For Harvard!