5 Effective Things You Can Do in a Gap Year
Last updated October 17, 2020
If you’re thinking of taking a gap year before attending college to allow time for things to return to normal, you’re not alone. There’s a very real possibility that many colleges will conduct Fall 2020 classes online or via distance learning - and these learning mediums don’t suit everyone. Whether you’re looking to take a gap year to save money, experience new things, build your resume, or travel, here’s a list of 5 things you can do during a gap year.
Remember: If you do decide to take a gap year, and have already applied to college - ACCEPT an offer of admission, but ask to defer admission for a year so you can take your gap year and then immediately matriculate.
- Build up college credit at a local community college
Right now, committing to 4-years of college can seem like an enormous, uncertain investment - and most colleges have not committed to offering students the flexibility of tuition and deposit refunds if COVID-19 continues to affect campuses and classroom programming. If you still want to work toward a degree, but aren’t ready to commit to a university - deferring your matriculation and earning credits at your local community college is a fantastic way to affordably, safely do so. Community college offers the same high-quality professors and classes at a lower price, and is a great way to take care of general-education requirements.
2. Save money and build your resume by working during your gap year
Student loan debt is a huge factor. Saving money by working for a year can help reduce the amount you need to borrow. It can also help you build your resume, and crucial skills that you can carry with you into whatever career you choose during and after college. It’s a tough job market right now. If you need help finding entry-level jobs, check out our job search tool, AND this list of employers hiring for jobs you can do at home!
3. Give back and help those in need through these service gap year programs:
- AmeriCorps - a national service gap year program that involves “getting things done” in local communities. Volunteers earn an award toward their education, a living allowance, and build professional skills. Check out our full overview of how AmeriCorps can be a great option for building skills here.
- CityYear - Interested in teaching or working with students? CityYear places volunteers in schools working directly to support students. Similar to AmeriCorps, you earn a living stipend, an award that helps pay for a higher education degree, and you’ll build education-related professional skills. Their deadline to apply is mid-April of every year.
4. Travel while experiencing other countries and cultures - here are two examples, but you can search “Gap Year Programs” to discover even more.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) - WWOOFing, as they call it, is a program that connects farm owners with volunteers looking to live abroad and work in exchange for free room and board, and a deep cultural experience.
- Australia Work and Holiday Visa Program - Australia’s WHVP program offers a year-long travel and work visa to Australia for young adults (18-30) willing to work in high need industries like conservation, construction, brush fire rehabilitation, and tourism/hospitality. It’s a great way to experience Australia while also gaining professional experience and earning money.
5. Save the world through these environmental conservation gap year programs:
- Foundation for Sustainable Development - Participants receive extensive training in sustainable development principles and gain professional skills in project planning and budgeting, program evaluation, community assessment, and proposal writing. You’ll apply new and existing skill sets as you collaborate with local colleagues on identifying, designing, and implementing a project to benefit the community. Opportunity to work/travel abroad.
- Student Conservation Association - Similarly offers expenses-paid opportunities to serve communities and work on projects like forestry, water quality monitoring, public outreach, environmental education, archaeology, and more.