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How To Plan A Fulfilling Gap Year

Many high school students tend to enjoy a few months of summer vacation after they graduate, and then embark on new adventures at college or trade school. Graduating college seniors follow a similar path of joining the workforce or beginning post-graduate work after earning their degrees. But such paths are not the only ones available to students. Some students may want to consider a gap year.

A gap year is a break from academia to pursue other interests or even experiential learning, according to Forbes. It’s more than just a time to relax, and can prove especially helpful to self-development and discovery. If time and budget allows, taking a gap year can be a worthwhile and productive endeavor. Here are a few ideas and benefits relating to gap years.

• Hone skills: Some see a gap year as a chance to goof off or lounge around. Instead, this break provides an opportunity to sample the workforce and gain experience. Individuals can seek opportunities that will be relevant to the careers they intend to pursue in the future. A future certified public accountant, for example, may want to spend tax season working with an accounting firm to learn the ropes.

• Learn a language: Students may think a gap year is the perfect opportunity to become more proficient in a foreign language or two. Bilingualism can be a key advantage in one’s job search and future career. Traveling to a country where a studied language is spoken and learning it while immersed in the culture can be a particularly effective means to acquiring language skills.

• Engage in a passion project: There are many projects that may be put on hold because of lack of time or resources while in school. A gap year can be the ideal time to write more or explore an innovative new business idea.

• Perform service work: A gap year can be an opportunity to engage in social change or to help a cause. Certain people may want to travel to underprivileged areas on humanitarian missions or teach English to students overseas. These are experiences that will promote personal growth and help boost a résumé when it comes time to find a job.

• Improve academic performance: A study by Colorado College’s Gap Year Research Consortium reported that those who participate in gap years exceeded their predicted GPAs by roughly 0.15 points. A gap year may help a person become a better student.

• Land an internship: Some companies may want to extend internship offerings beyond the standard semester. Many professionals land their jobs through networking, so taking time away from school to participate in a lengthy internship can make for a smoother entry into that company should one want to work with them in the future.

Taking a gap year may not be the traditional route for students, but the benefits of time away from formal learning can be profound.

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