Four Gap Year Ideas Before Starting College

Four Gap Year Ideas Before Starting College
Beth Dumbauld

Many high school graduates are opting for a “gap year” before enrolling in college full time. If you’re one of these students, we congratulate you! A gap year can refresh you, help you define your college goals, and provide experience you may not have otherwise received. The perceived downside is that you’ll be a year behind your peers, those you graduated with, so given the benefits of enrolling with your friends, why would you want to take a gap year? You might consider taking a gap year if:

  • You really don’t know what degree program appeals to you
  • You feel burned out from attending classes, doing homework and taking exams
  • You’ve been offered a great short-term opportunity to travel, teach or work an interesting job
  • You want to do some traveling and exploring before another four years of full-time school

Now that you know what a gap year is and we’ve gotten the “why” out of the way, here are some amazing gap year ideas to consider.

Things You Can Do During Your Gap Year

While the most common things people do in their gap year are fun, the learning experiences will also help you grow as an individual and help you focus on what your life’s passion will be. The first option is to…

Teach others what you already know:

  • English as a second language – no matter whether you stay home or go overseas, English is in high demand both home and abroad. You’ll learn how to share your knowledge with others who need this to advance their lives.
  • Computer skills for seniors – help seniors master email, using social media, creating a word document or spreadsheet. If you’ve watched family members become frustrated learning new technology and enjoy helping others, this might be a great fit.
  • Coach or instructor for sports and recreational activities – don’t limit yourself to team sports, like baseball, football and basketball. Consider golfing, skiing, sailing, rock climbing, or even musical lessons.

Travel is also a great option:

  • What foreign countries have you always wanted to see? Now is the time to experience a country you’ve studied and love.
  • What specific cities have attractions you’re interested in? Visit the Louvre in Paris, the Coliseum in Rome or even Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon.
  • Consider an American or European train tour – see several sights in a specific time frame, with all your travel included.

You could also work part or full time:

  • Do a paid internship in a career field you’re interested in. This is a great way to figure out if you want to pursue a degree in that career field.
  • Work part or full time in a career field you’re considering. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a veterinarian, work as an assistant in your local clinic.
  • Work locally while living at home to earn money to offset education expenses. Be sure to bank the money you earn to reduce student loans when you go back to school.

If those don’t appeal to you, here are other gap year ideas to consider:

  • Earn a non-degree certificate to gain new skills – infrared camera operations, information technology, private pilot license, etc.
  • Go on an adventure – sail around the world, bicycle across country, climb a mountain or hike the Appalachian Trail.
  • Perform public service – volunteer to work with seniors or youth, help rehabilitate wildlife, join Habitat for Humanity and build houses.
  • Help organize and operate benefits or fundraisers for your favorite charity – it can be rewarding to help a cause you’re passionate about by raising funds for their operational expenses.
  • Create an easy to run business – offer pet sitting services, day-time elder care, driving services, or virtual assistant services as a side-hustle.

No matter what you decide to do in your gap year, you’ll grow personally, gain new skills, meet people who you otherwise would not have worked with, and develop a focused approach to tackling a college degree program.

Keep in mind that the self-paced, affordable college courses at StraighterLine can also fit into your gap year plans by keeping your academic skills sharp on your schedule. Interested? Try two free lessons of our most popular courses today and see if we’re a good fit for your gap year plans.

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