While some students like to jump right into college once they’re finished with high school, others like to take a break before moving on to higher education. Some students might do this to de-stress after completing 12 years of schooling and before moving on to more difficult challenges, while others take the time to find an internship, travel around the world, or volunteer for a special project.
This break before college is called a gap semester or a gap year, and although some might think it is a waste of time it can carry several benefits for students that use it to their advantage.
What a Gap Semester is Not
A gap semester is not an opportunity to get some free time before starting college. It is a chance for students to see and experience the world outside of high school and college so that they can be better prepared for higher education. A gap semester should give students the opportunity to add new work opportunities, internships, and volunteer experiences to a resume or college application.
Some students may be able to get into the college of their choice based on their GPA or ACT scores, but the best colleges also look for things like extracurricular activities and community service to determine who should be accepted.
Many students take the time during high school to complete these tasks and gain valuable life experiences, but for those who decided to forgo extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences in lieu of focusing on studies, a gap semester can be the chance to make up for lost time.
In other words, students should use their gap semesters wisely and not waste their time.
How to Spend a Gap Semester
The great aspect about a gap semester is that students can spend them however they want as long as they’re being productive. A popular option is to take a gap semester trip abroad. This can be a great time to travel to different parts of the world to study, teach, or champion causes having to do with public health, urbanization, and environmentalism. There are several travel abroad programs, many of which are offered by high schools and colleges all over the world.
Other options available to students who want to take a gap semester or a gap year but don’t wish to travel abroad include volunteering for a non-profit, finding a paid or unpaid internship related to a career that might interest them, or simply working a summer job to see what living in the “real world” is like.
Use the Time to Keep Your Focus
Students should by no means be afraid to take some time off before beginning college with a gap semester or gap year. Although some people might be afraid that a student who doesn’t jump immediately into college will somehow lose their motivation, the truth is that many students who take a gap semester find that they are more motivated, more focused, and more mature than those who attend classes almost non-stop until they have a degree. They have had more time to think about what they want to do, and they have experienced things that might influence their future plans.
Always remember that there is nothing wrong with putting off college for a semester or a year, just as long as you use your time wisely.
About the Author: Tom Wilkins is a stay-at-home career writer – he prides himself on staying up to date on the latest tips and recommendations when it comes to education, training and ways to make the most of both – if you’re interested in researching more information on gap years, check out the ARCC Trips page of the Adventure Cross Country website.