There are many ways that you can benefit from taking a year off between a high school and college — also known as a “gap year.” This experience can allow you to encounter different jobs, lifestyles and cultures. They will help you articulate your identity and passions to better form the important decisions you will make during the college years.
To make the most of this important year, make sure that you clarify ahead of time exactly what you want to get out of it and build a clear plan.
Is your primary goal to earn money for college, or to gain job experience in a particular field? Or maybe you want to travel to unique destinations and experience life in a completely different culture?
Once you have clarified your goals, there are many options that can help you make your gap year both memorable and fulfilling.
Do you want to do something to strengthen your resumé? Do you want to network in a particular field of work and gain some professional skills? There are many great ways that you can do these things during a gap year, and hopefully earn some much-needed cash too.
Teach English abroad. Whether you realize it or not, your command of the English language will be one of your greatest assets in the job market and there is no better way to learn the nuances of your native language than teaching it to someone else!
Work on a farm in another country. Head to the American Mid-West to work on a ranch or to Australia to help with the fruit harvest. You will not only earn extra cash but also make good friends. You can also volunteer with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, for agricultural work anywhere in the world.
Become an au pair. The lessons you learn will be invaluable: the skills of caring for children along with firsthand knowledge of the language and culture. There’s no better way to learn about a traditional lifestyle of a nation than by living with a family.
Take an internship abroad. An internship is the best way to enhance future job prospects. Start with the Intern Group to learn about internships in exciting places such as New York City, Hong Kong, or Colombia.
Travel the World
Travel is an ideal way to learn many things that you will not learn in a classroom setting. This is a great opportunity to gain knowledge of different languages, cultures, history, and famous tourist destinations.
Do some serious hiking. Grab your backpack and go explore the legendary mountains of Southeast Asia. If you’re not much of a hiker, the cities and coasts of India and Nepal are also inspiring.
Take the train through Europe. While this destination may seem obvious, you can have an unforgettable experience visiting all of the 23 countries of Europe, each with its own unique landmarks, history, and culture. Simply buy a Eurail pass to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Learn about others and gain valuable experience by giving back to the community, either in your hometown or in an exotic, far-flung destination.
Help save wildlife. Volunteer with the African Conservation Experience to rehabilitate wild animals in the jungles of Botswana or help conserve marine life off the coast of South Africa. Another popular volunteer destination is Borneo, where you can help out in an orangutan rehabilitation center.
Coach a sport. Do you have mad soccer skills? Then you could coach children in Rio de Janeiro or St. Lucia. You might also consider mastering an extreme sport like surfing, scuba diving, or skiing in order to teach it to others.
If you plan it well, your gap year will advance your goals and widen your perspective, without breaking the bank. So go ahead and explore these opportunities for what could prove to be the most memorable year of your life!