How to Start Your Gap Year Off on the Best Note
A gap year is often an attractive option for some students looking to expand their horizons and learn outside of the classroom. With many campuses implementing fully virtual or hybrid education models this fall due to COVID-19, more students are considering taking a gap year.
While gap years can be an incredible opportunity to gain real-life experience, it’s important to plan ahead and make the most of your time outside of the classroom. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to ensure you lay the foundation for a gap year that’s enriching and exciting.
Start by Goal-Setting
Students shouldn’t view gap years as an extended vacation. Instead, the experience is a chance to explore the interests and passions you care most about on your own terms. Consequently, the first step every student should take is to create a detailed plan outlining what they wish to accomplish during their gap year. Start by reflecting on your academic journey, the extracurricular activities you most enjoy, and where you see yourself in the next five and ten years. Use this information to brainstorm a list of three to five goals that you wish to accomplish throughout the coming months.
Do Your Research
Once you have identified your core objectives, seek out specific experiences and opportunities that will help you achieve these goals. For example, if you’re passionate about writing, pursue internship opportunities at a local newspaper, compile your own independent reading list, and consider taking an online course taught by an author that you admire. The possibilities for students who are eager to learn are near-infinite, so it’s important to review multiple opportunities to pinpoint the experience that best aligns with your needs and goals.
Stick to a Schedule
Even if you’re not bound to a strict course schedule the way you were in high school, every student should structure their time in order to maximize their efficiency. After identifying the opportunities you wish to pursue, begin to build a routine that will enable you to work productively on a consistent basis. This could mean penciling in several hours for academic work in the morning or setting aside time each day to read independently or journal. Having some consistency will help students stay on track to meet their goals.
Reflect on Your Progress
Students in the midst of a gap year may not receive formalized report cards, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to evaluate your own progress. Every week, review the learning experiences you have participated in, what you took away from these events, and what you hope to learn in the future. By setting aside reflection time each week, students can maintain their motivation, identify any roadblocks early on, and devise workarounds to make sure they stay on track to meet their goals.
Try Something New
Even if your main goal is to deepen your understanding of a passion you’ve honed throughout high school, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore new opportunities as well. Gap years are a unique chance to diversify your experiences and broaden your skillset. Whether it is learning a new language, advancing your PhotoShop skills, or picking up an entirely new hobby, take advantage of any additional free time to step outside of your comfort zone in some capacity.
While gap years have the potential to help students learn and grow in an entirely new environment, these learning periods are only impactful when students commit to making the most of them. If you are interested in taking a gap year and looking for tips on planning and preparation, our team of college admissions experts can provide personalized insight.