Heading to college right after high school graduation was a norm for decades. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, including how we approach higher education. The pandemic enabled many future college students to take a gap year, either because they didn’t want to begin their college experience in a virtual setting or because campuses were closed.
The benefits of a gap year are life-changing because you may use that time to develop new skills, volunteer, travel, and boost your resume. All this can give you the much-needed confidence. Furthermore, students are choosing to take a gap year in the middle of their studies now.
Let’s explore this subject and help you decide if taking a gap year is the right move for you.
The pros and cons of a gap year
The interest in taking a gap year has been on a steady rise since 2017 when Malia Obama, former President Obama’s daughter, announced she would work at the US Embassy in Madrid before going to college. But Malia Obama wasn’t the first famous person to take a gap year.
For instance, Steve Jobs took a gap year and traveled through India. Elon Musk also took a gap year before college and traveled through Canada, where he worked various jobs. But remember that a gap year isn’t suitable for everyone. It’s advisable to go over all the pros and cons and then make a final decision.
If you have been considering taking a gap year, there has to be a reason behind it. Perhaps you want to see the world, relax, get work experience, and more. Here are the benefits of taking a gap year:
A better resume
You can use the gap year for professional development and intern at a company or organization related to your desired field of study. The first-hand experience should prepare you for the future and boost your resume.
The ability to travel the world, experience different cultures, and live independently can help you become more confident in your abilities, including learning. Additionally, spending time in an unknown place will improve your communication skills.
Focusing on your education and getting excellent grades can be tiring. So, a gap year is perfect for recharging your batteries, trying out different hobbies, and doing what you love. As a result, you’ll be more inspired and excited to begin your college journey.
Of course, there are some downsides to taking a gap year. Let’s go through them:
Feeling left behind
If you are the only person in your group of friends taking a gap year, it is natural to feel left behind. It might feel like a lot, especially right after high school, but being one year behind your peers is not a big deal in the long run.
Dealing with stress
Traveling can be stressful and overwhelming for some, especially when you are half a world away from your family. But consider taking someone along with you because everything is easier when you have someone to rely on.
How to prepare for a gap year
If you have decided that a gap year is something you want to experience, it’s the perfect time to go through the essentials:
Make a plan
Start by determining what you want to do during the gap year. There are many options like traveling, working, focusing on self-improvement, studying, volunteering, being an intern, etc. Writing down a list of ideas is always a good idea. Don’t forget to dig deeper and see what other students are doing during their gap year.
Talk to your family and friends
The reality is that some of your family and friends will be surprised by your decision to take a gap year. But talking about your plans with them should ease their minds. Reassure your loved ones that you’ll continue to keep in touch despite your location. After all, social media keeps us all connected.
Remember to stay safe
Traveling and spending time in a different country is challenging, so learning how to stay safe is crucial. That includes online safety as well. After all, you’ll be using unknown networks to connect to the internet. Having the right set of tools to block malware is recommended. Consider downloading an antivirus software or a VPN with a threat protection feature that can block malware before you start your journey.