Continue Your Education
Are There Other Options?
Take a Gap Year
Many students consider “gap years” right after high school or college to explore what they want to do with their lives. Gap years can be a good time to take a break, see the world, gain new experiences, research a career field, or pursue a dream. But there are a few things to consider before you pack your bags.
Taking a gap year is not for everyone. If you’re not sure, consider the following benefits of taking a year off:
- You’ll experience something new
Whether you’re trying to learn more about a career field, a location, or just get to know yourself better, taking some time to research and explore will help you gain a better understanding. The experience may also help you find the career you really want.
- You can take a deep breath
After four or five years of college, you may be ready to take a break before jumping into grad school or the job market. That’s understandable. Plus, when else will you have the chance? Just be sure to continue developing yourself. Prospective employers will want to know what you did during your year off. Bing watching TV shows and partying is not going to impress.
- You can prepare for your future
Some students just don’t know what they want to do. Whether it’s career field or college major, they are confused and uncertain. If this is you, it is ok … you’re not alone. Taking a year to gain perspective and find out what you want to do could be time well spent. It may even help light a fuse that drives you to excel in college and career.
Before you decide to unplug and enjoy some downtime, consider the following ways a gap year could create problems for you:
- It’s expensive
Whether you decide to travel, volunteer, or just avoid work, you’re not getting paid and you’re likely racking up bills. You’ll need to establish a budget and manage your expenses. Do NOT pay for your gap year on a credit card … you’ll just be digging a bigger hole for yourself. Look into part-time jobs, even if you’re traveling. The work experience will also help you build your resume.
- You may just be wasting time
As your friends start on their career paths or enroll in grad school, you’ll be behind schedule. Plus if you don’t have the funds or support to do what you want, you may find that you’re just sitting around and not maximizing your time. Have a plan for your gap year so you can get started right away and make the most of the experience.
- It can put a strain on relationships
Let’s face it, not everyone will understand why you want to take a gap year. Your parents may think you’ve lost your mind and not provide financial support. Feelings can get hurt along the way. You’ll want to stay positive and focused on the long term. This is your career and your life, but be sensitive to others’ opinions as you don’t want to burn bridges.
- Student loan bills will continue to pile up
Once you leave school, the grace period on your student loans lasts for only six months; then the bills will come due. Contact your loan holder to understand your options. If you defer payment until later, the interest will accrue, which means you’ll owe that much more. Debt is a serious issue, especially when you’re starting out in life. Don’t put yourself in a worse position by ignoring your bills.