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Everything You Need to Know about a Gap Year

Taking a break between high school and college is an option that appeals to a lot of students. However, a gap year is more than just an extended summer before you go off to college. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind if you're considering taking a gap year.

Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

If you're undecided about what to study in college or even what you want to do with your life, a gap year can help you figure that out. You can use this free time to intern in fields that you're interested in and see if you want to pursue a career there. You can also get involved in volunteer work in your community or beyond by traveling abroad with a mission group or a nonprofit like World Exchange or the Peace Corps. Just be sure to do your research beforehand and verify that the volunteer group you'd like to work with is doing sustainable, helpful work, and not just giving teens an excuse to travel around! Working or interning as part of a team will allow you to grow personally, gain some marketable skills and experience, and make a difference in the world.

Drawbacks of Taking a Gap Year

A gap year is not a time to relax and think about college later. If you don't have a set of goals for your gap year, it's not smart to take one. A year away from school won't benefit you if you don't get anything done. Once you graduate high school, making plans for your life should be a priority. Also, gap years can be expensive. If you want to travel overseas for months at a time, you need to be prepared to deal with the expenses that come with travel. Make sure you look into gap year plans with plenty of time in advance so you'll be able to prepare for what's required from you.

Other Points to Keep in Mind

It's possible that a gap year could set your career path behind. By taking a gap year, you'll be graduating a year later than everyone else your age. However others won't have the same experiences that you gained during your gap year. Thus, the skills you learn during a gap year can make you a more competitive job candidate, but you'll also have to make sure that those skills make up for the year you'll lose. Make sure you take every aspect of your situation into consideration before you decide to wait a year to go to college. And if you do decide that you'd like to take a gap year, make sure that it is a structured gap year. You need to make a plan for what you wish to accomplish during the year, and then stick to that plan. Otherwise, you'll probably find it hard to get back on track once the year is over.