What to Keep in Mind When Considering a Gap Year
Mar 4, 2020
|As the pressures and costs of high school and college have increased, more students have felt the need to take a gap year after their high school graduation. Some choose to travel the world if they have the means, while others volunteer or work to save enough money to go to college. If you are considering a gap year before attending a four-year college, you are not alone. However, you should keep the following recommendations in mind when deciding how to spend your gap year.
Keep Your Digital Profile Clean
Employers and schools constantly check prospective employees’ and students’ social media accounts. If they see pictures or videos of you engaging in unprofessional or illegal activities, they will probably reject your application. Don’t think that you can use fake accounts to hide from background checks. Most universities have IoT solutions and other technology that lets them conduct advanced searches, so it’s best to just avoid posting questionable content. Keeping your social media accounts free of troublesome content is also important if you have deferred your acceptance for a year. For example, if you told your college that you are taking a gap year to volunteer overseas and they see videos of you partying, they will not have a very high opinion of you.
Know Your School’s Acceptance Guidelines
Some colleges allow you to apply during your senior year of high school and delay the start of your first term until after your gap year. Others are unwilling to save a spot for you and want you to reapply during their admissions season in your gap year. You may need to contact your teachers from high school for letters of recommendation, so do your best to maintain relationships with people who are experts in your intended major. Keep in mind the fact that most applications are online. If you are traveling or volunteering in an area with limited internet reception, plan to submit your application early enough that technical issues do not prevent you from applying.
Record Your Jobs and Activities
Taking a gap year can make you stand out on college and scholarship applications, but only if you can articulate how your experiences affected you. Not everyone likes to keep a journal, but you should find some way of recording the activities you do during your gap year. For example, if you work at a family member’s business, note all jobs that you perform as well as any special projects, tasks or certifications. Take pictures when appropriate and write down any meaningful anecdotes that you can share during interviews and essays.
Make the Year Meaningful
Gap years provide a break from the monotony of school life, but they look different for everyone. They may involve working hard to save money or using your funds to experience different cultures. No matter what you do, find ways to make your time away from school meaningful. After all, you won’t have homework and you will probably have far fewer responsibilities than you will after graduation. Take time to explore the community around you, whether it’s your hometown or a city thousands of miles from your house. Show support for local artists at free concerts and art displays and patronize small businesses. Don’t just focus on your work or yourself, but create meaningful relationships with your coworkers, fellow travelers and family. Gap years are not automatically life-changing, but if you put in extra time and effort, you can have an experience that you will think about for the rest of your life.
The idea of taking a gap year can be frightening for some people, and there are ways that they can go wrong. However, if you take the time to carefully plan your year as well as to examine your options for college at the end of the break, you can have a great experience that will prepare you for college and your career.