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Questions to ask yourself before taking a gap year – Forbes Advisor

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Students looking for learning experiences outside of the classroom may consider taking a gap year. This school break allows learners to develop a better understanding of themselves, in particular of their professional and academic aspirations. Personal development during such a crucial period can offer useful information that can inform students’ future academic and professional careers, as well as their personal lives.

Are you interested in taking a gap year? You might want to ask yourself a few questions first.

What is a gap year?

A gap year is a time when students spend time away from their formal education to engage in other experiences, such as travel. Many of these learners take a full year between high school and college because recent high school graduates often feel overwhelmed by the pressures of choosing college and a career at such a young age. A gap year can provide these students with more time to step back and consider their options.

A gap year can be of any length and occur at any point in a student’s academic career. For example, some learners may take time off during college or between undergraduate and graduate school.

Students can take advantage of a gap year to participate in learning experiences outside of the classroom and focus on personal growth. This period allows learners to explore their educational and professional interests and goals.

What are the benefits of a gap year?

A gap year provides development opportunities during a critical transition period. Students can travel, look for a job, volunteer, or simply take time off to reduce stress.

Taking a gap year can also help students become more independent and confident when returning to their formal education. These qualities allow learners to get the most out of their education and feel more assured that they are making the right investments in themselves.

Top questions to ask yourself before taking a gap year

Before deciding whether or not a gap year is practical, ask yourself the following questions:

What are the benefits for you of taking a gap year?

A gap year is a time to rest, reflect and plan. For example, high school graduates who are unsure about choosing the right school can use a gap year for campus tours and interviews.

As a result of high school stressors, many students experience burnout and want to start college on the right foot. Taking a gap year between high school and college allows learners to work through their mental health issues without the added pressure of college.

What do you plan to do with your gap year?

Would you use your gap year to work or to rest? Do you prefer to stay at home or travel? Figure out how you would most like to spend your free time and start making a plan. For example, if you want to spend your gap year traveling, start researching airfare and accommodations and budgeting for your trips.

Likewise, if you want to work or volunteer during your gap year, keep in mind that it will take time to complete applications and receive responses. Plan ahead to research available opportunities and apply as early as possible.

What do you plan to learn or accomplish during your gap year?

Some learners take a gap year to rest, recharge and focus on themselves. Others set concrete professional or personal goals to set themselves up for success when they take the next step in their education. Knowing what you want out of your gap year can help you figure out what to put into it.

For example, gap year students who travel can immerse themselves in different cultures around the world. Leaving home and spending time away from friends and family can help develop independence and understanding of the world. If you want to thrive on your gap year, you might consider travel.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to get your foot in the door professionally, you can use your gap year for an internship or entry-level job.

Can you make a gap year work financially?

It is essential to plan for the potential cost of your gap year. Students planning to work during their gap year may have less to worry about, although student loans will continue to accrue interest during this time. Similarly, learners who are earning an income may be eligible for less need-based support upon their return to school.

Learners who wish to travel or volunteer should understand the financial implications of taking a gap year. Without constant income or savings, young students who spend time between high school and college can accumulate credit card debt during this time. It could have long-term effects that go beyond college.

Some schools offer financial aid to gap year students to help fund their gap year. This support allows learners to pursue their gap year goals without worrying about their income. Yet most financial aid requires careful planning for eventual repayment. Before taking a break from your studies, be sure to consider whether you can afford it financially.

Do you plan to go to university later? Should you consider applying later or ask for a recommendation?

If you are confident in your choice of university, you can apply for admission and then request a one-year deferral when your application is accepted. Otherwise, you could wait to apply after or during your gap year, in which case you can spend your free time researching more universities, programs, and financial aid opportunities.

Do you have a plan to get out of your gap year?

Although your gap year may take you in a professional or personal direction that you did not originally plan, it is important to plan for a transition into education. Research indicates that 90% of students who take a break from their studies re-enroll after one year, and careful planning can make this transition seamless.

To return to school, you need to have an overview of your education and your gap year. Students taking time off from school should ensure that gap year experiences such as employment, travel, or volunteer work do not overlap with re-enrollment.

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