Gap Year: Taking a Year Off After College

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There are many compelling reasons to consider a gap year after college. Even in the best circumstances, the year after graduating from college is a precarious time. Without the strict schedule of a school year, some find that they aren’t quite sure what to do next if they haven’t already secured employment. Other students know they intend to go to graduate school but need an academic break to pursue other passions or develop different skills. No matter what your situation is, there are a lot of benefits to taking a gap year and exploring what the world has to offer outside of your backyard.

What are the benefits of a gap year?

There are a lot of different ways to spend a gap year and all of them offer various benefits and advantages. People can use a year off from academics and work to develop skills for future employment, travel, learn a new language, and learn outside the classroom. If you have concrete goals and a well thought out plan, you can use your time to prepare for the next phase of your life, whether that be a career, graduate school, or something else entirely.

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What should I do?

The possibilities are ultimately limitless, but ideally, you should focus on spending your time on a pursuit that will help you advance your larger goals in life. Travel is one of the most popular ways to spend a gap year, but your travel should include more than just sightseeing. Living in another place can teach you more than any class. Depending on where you go, you might have the opportunity to develop new language skills and experience a culture completely different from your own.

Another option is to apply to a volunteer program and spend the year doing charity work for the public good. If you’re hoping to apply to graduate school, a gap year also gives you the flexibility to obtain any academic credentials you may need. If you need to take a specialized test like the MCAT or LSAT, the extra time can help you study and improve your score. The question isn’t so much about what you should do but why you’re doing it.

How can my gap year help me?

One thing a gap year can do for those who haven’t completely decided on their path yet is to provide the opportunity to get better acquainted with yourself and your passions. A lot of people know what they want to do and have the ambition to do it immediately, but sometimes a little extra time and consideration can be necessary to figure out where you want to go next. If you do know what you want to do, a gap year can help you take steps towards that goal that might not be available in a traditional school or work environment. You can also find a lot of nontraditional educational opportunities through travel, training programs, and other types of classes.

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When you graduate college, it’s understandable not to feel completely sure of your next steps. Taking a gap year can give you the time you need to gain additional credentials, explore the world, and develop new skills to prepare you for the rest of your life and career. What to do during your gap year is up to you, but the most important thing is to make sure what you’re doing will help you achieve your larger goals.

You can take a year off and just lay on the couch, but why? There’s a whole world out there and you should take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. Whether you’re traveling, learning, or preparing for graduate school, there is a lot of value in using the year after you graduate to take some time for yourself.

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