Sonnie Hiles @sonniehiles

A gap year is a one-year break that an increasing number of students take between undergrad and the beginning of graduate school or a career. They participate in various educational and personal development activities before continuing their education.

A gap year is an extension of your education, an accumulation of experiences, new perspectives, and hopefully discovering a new you.

The pandemic and the circumstances it has created have led many students to take an unexpected gap year to make better use of their time. Many 2020/2021 students took or are about to take it, but they still want to plan. Here are some of the most rewarding options you have for trying if you are one of those students.

Do Some Traveling

One of the most recommended activities to do during your sabbatical, along with volunteering, is undoubtedly traveling since it offers you a series of benefits that other activities cannot. Not only will you have experiences that will in no way harm your future work, but on the contrary, they will enrich it.

One of the benefits of traveling is that you will have something out of the ordinary to show on your resume, a point to start a conversation, and something to remind yourself after a job interview.

It also allows you to define your interests and clarify what you want to do after graduation. You can discover that field of work that will become your passion for the rest of your life. Being in contact with other cultures will open your mind and see the world differently, in a complete way.

If you consider yourself independent, you will see that traveling will reinforce that independence and express it more broadly and reveal many things about yourself that you did not know.

Volunteer

It’s an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, improve your appreciation of the world, and gain more independence, all while making a very positive contribution to communities that really need the support of volunteers.

Unlike traveling, where adventure plays a leading role, volunteering has more to do with wanting to positively influence the community you have chosen as your destination. You can dedicate time to a passion of yours, develop skills, make connections, feel good about the work you do.

Having been a volunteer for a year anywhere in the world becomes a kind of distinction that makes grad school and job applications look great. There are programs dedicated to helping you make the most of your volunteer time, either at home or abroad (allowing you to combine this option with traveling).

Get Ready For Graduate School

Typically, before the pandemic, students sought to take a gap year because they wanted to discover their true interests and help them decide what to study.

Post-pandemic reasons have expanded to include feeling they are not getting the education and experience they are paying for, or not having the ability to pay tuition due to the recession, or having trouble learning remotely.

Another viable option to fill the time during a gap year is to prepare to apply for one of the many graduate programs available, like the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT. Be sure you take advantage of extra time, and use the highest quality resources possible. Join an MCAT study group, take the best LSAT prep course you can, use the official guide to the GRE general test and GMAT.

Start Your Career

Many people do not feel the need to pursue higher education after graduation. They do not need it for their professional career, either because they do not have those aspirations or because they have been offered a job during their senior year.

Maybe you know what you want to do and you feel ready to enter a real job. If that’s so, you can follow a series of tips for applying to your first job after college:

  • Take advantage of the resources that, as a recent graduate, your college has for you.
  • Visit the career office and meet with a career advisor to discuss your options.
  • Network with professionals in your industry.
  • Create a professional online profile.
  • Create your own website
  • Join a professional group.

Go With Your Gut

Taking a gap year after your undergrad studies is both important and challenging because it allows you to take a breath, get to know yourself, and grow as a person. It allows you to discover your interests, to impact the lives of others positively, to find your passion in life before continuing with your studies.

It also allows you to prepare yourself in the best way for graduate studies, or if you are ready to enter the job market, it gives you the time necessary to obtain the job of your dreams.

The gap year is an opportunity. The way you take advantage of it is up to you.