Deciding whether or not taking a gap year after high school works for you is a big decision. Senior year of high school is notorious for being the time when teenagers are asked to make huge, life-changing decisions, many of which are influenced heavily by factors they cannot control.
While your peers are deciding where to apply to college, you can be wondering, “Is taking a gap year a good idea?” Some people aren’t at all interested in gap years, and that’s fine! But if the idea of a gap year, or a year off from school between high school and college, intrigues you. This is the right question to ask.
1. Get career experience
A year after high school can be a great way to gain experience in your potential career and decide if it is right for you. This experience can make you more competitive in your field when seeking internships and jobs. If you are considering a career with a long and expensive education path, checking if it is appropriate before you start investing can be a great idea.
2. Must not interrupt your path to take a break
A whole year of trying out a new experience when living abroad is what most people dream of. But resting later in life can mean disrupting your college education. Taking a gap year before going to college can be a nice, clear time to take a break without having to take other responsibilities to consider.
3. Try something new
College can be an amazing experience, but in some ways, it is similar to high school. Taking a year off after high school may be your chance to experience something different. It will help you appreciate the classroom structure more and also get a refreshed perspective.
4. Learn new skills
A gap year is an opportunity to learn new skills, whether you learn veterinary skills in Thailand, Spanish skills in Argentina, or teaching skills in China. Taking your gap year before you start college means that you can apply those skills to your degree and start getting the benefits of them right away!
5. Prepare financially
College is a big investment. An extra year to prepare can help you earn money if you spend the year working. It can give you time to apply for scholarships or other aid that can help make your tuition more affordable. It can also give you time to apply to schools that may offer you more favorable financial aid packages if you didn’t yet get an aid package that meets your needs.
You will have time to work hard, learn a lot, and self-reflect and set solid goals before embarking on the next stage of life.
6. A huge asset
In most careers, being young and inexperienced are seen as disadvantages. But, in many gap year programs, these characteristics can be a huge asset! Gap year after high school programs are designed with you in mind, so they often don’t have experience requirements. Your current phase in life can mean that you have an easier time being flexible, traveling to new locations, and learning new skills.
7. Avoid committing to college before you are ready
More and more students are taking five years or longer to finish college, perhaps because they are initially enrolling in programs that aren’t a perfect fit. A gap year can help give you the time and experience to choose the college and program that’s best for you, which makes it time well spent!
1. Some people may not understand your choice.
Gap years have increased in popularity in the US over the past few years, but more traditional family members or teachers may not quite understand your choice. That’s certainly okay. However, it means you will have to educate the people around you about your plans and that you might feel like you have to justify your plan to others.
2. Some programs can add costs to your educational path.
If the alternative was to go straight to a four-year program and finish on time, and you choose an organized gap-year program, your overall costs will be higher with a gap year. However, a gap year could help you make better educational plans and shorten your time in college. It can also include time spent working and earning money.
3. Easily get disorganized
If you are someone who needs outside deadlines to get anything done and can happily lay around all day if someone else doesn’t make you get up, then a gap year might not be the best fit for you. To make the most of your gap year, you need to be able to motivate yourself to grow, learn, take advantage of opportunities, and prepare for what’s next. When it comes to a gap year after high school, the pros and cons depend on how able you are to make the year what you want it to be.
4. Research and planning take a lot of work
Getting the most out of your gap year means making a plan that’s right for you, and that takes research.Don’t let your parents do all the research for you.This is a good time to choose the perfect fit for you. If you aren’t willing to put in the work, you may not be ready to make the most of a gap year.
5. You might not be ready to make the most of the experience yet.
Only you can know if you are ready to have a gap year experience like learning a new language in Europe, working on a farm in Australia, teaching English in Africa, or interning in South America. It should feel challenging and make you a little anxious. However, if you are nervous and feel unprepared to be responsible for your schedule, you might find a gap year abroad overwhelming.
Sound like you? You could still think about a gap year, but maybe find something more similar to school and closer to home for a better fit.
Is taking a gap year right for you?
When you think about taking a gap year after high school, the pros and cons can be tough to balance. It may help to remember that all gap years don’t look alike! You don’t need to go all the way to the other side of the world and spend the year in a hut with no electricity.
A gap year looks like finding a job in your hometown and living at home for a year while you learn a new skill online. It can mean moving to another US city and interning while you live with a family member. It can also mean limiting your possessions to your backpack and hitting the road for an international adventure. The possibilities are endless!
What do you need to carry out?
Talk to your family
Is taking a gap year a good idea? Don’t decide on your own, especially if your family is involved in helping to support you or pay for college. Your parents and other family members might be able to give you insight and help you research options that will fit your personality and skills.
Think about your goals
Why are you thinking about a gap year? To get ahead? To better choose a school? Or to improve your college applications? Or to take a break? To help at home? Figuring out what you’re trying to get out of a gap year can tell you if the gap year is the best choice for you and. If it is, which type of gap year would be the best pick!
Start by learning about different gap year after high school ideas and check out programs online to see what’s available, but be sure to go past just reading a single promotional page. Talk to people who’ve done the program. Look for reviews. Call them up and ask questions. Read about the location of your program.
Keep your college options open
Think beyond your gap year when you’re making choices – life won’t end when your gap year is over! If you have already been admitted to college, talk to your college of choice about deferring acceptance. Also, if you haven’t applied yet, consider the possibility of applying now and deferring your acceptance. If you want to choose your college after your gap year, be sure to take the year to prepare a strong application and don’t miss any important deadlines.
Can’t choose? Do both.
If you are on the fence, think about an option that’s halfway between a gap year and traditional college. This could mean working for half the year and starting university in January. It could mean studying abroad the first semester, which many colleges now offer in their applications. It could mean doing a one-semester program abroad. Also, it could mean working or interning while taking a few classes at a local community college in the subject of your choice. The beauty of a gap year is its flexibility, so your decision doesn’t have to be all or nothing!
If you are thinking about the pros and cons of a gap year after high school, don’t make a decision lightly! You don’t have to follow the traditional straight-to-college schedule, but deciding how to spend the next year of your life is a big deal. Remember that there can be more than one right choice, so don’t sweat about finding the one absolute, perfect, best choice. Instead, focus on finding a choice that you’re proud of and happy with, and that will help you accomplish your future goals. For gap year after high school ideas, you could start learning about some program options here. You can do it!
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