The Gap Year

Many students take a gap year after college. It is a chance to do something unusual and interesting while you are still young and not tied to a work week or grad school. Students often travel, learn a language, volunteer, do research, get a certificate, teach English, work in the community, etc. If you are considering taking a gap year read through our resources. They will help you create a plan that maximizes the short time you have before you take your next step to grad school or work.

Why do people take a Gap Year?

  • Not sure about career direction
  • Not enough experience in a career field to make a strong commitment to it.
  • Job opportunities recently dried up, the economy tanked.
  • Change in situation such as finances, geography, health, etc.
  • To earn lots of money before next step or pay off loans
  • Too busy (procrastinated) until it was too late to go get the ideal situation
  • Want to join your boyfriend or girlfriend who has a job in New York
  • The reasons are as individual as you are

There are 4 ways to think about the Gap year

A time off to literally rest, relax, goof off.

In the classic movie “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman hung out until he almost got into plastics, but he got into other things instead. If you can find room and board and want to do nothing. Why not? To do this you must successfully resist your lifelong acculturated imperative to “accomplish something.”

Is this a legitimate way to spend time? What are the benefits of rest? What are the costs? How long can you really do nothing?

A time to pursue a special interest, skill, knowledge, information

Is there something you always wanted to learn, such as carpentry, scuba, a foreign language, public speaking, art, cooking, etc.? You may want to spend some time developing a skill or knowledge base in something you thoroughly enjoy unrelated to traditional academic or serious career pursuits.

A time to pursue a specific experience, personal growth, or self-development

Is there an experience you always dreamed of doing? Or have you wanted to work in a situation that is not career related? Ideas include things such as working on a ski slope in Montana, coaching a sport, living overseas, biking across country, joining Peace Corps/Vista/Teach for America, write a novel, etc.

A time to do TWO or more of the above.

One of the GapYear advantages is that you can do more than just one of these things. You could work at a job just for pay for 6 months, then bike across Europe for 4 months on your earnings. You might study a language at a Community College while you work in Ski shop in Aspen.

The things you must put in place for a successful Gap Year:

  • Resources – how will you survive during the hiatus?
  • Time – how long would you like to take?
  • Interest – how passionate are you about interests/experiences?
  • Support – who needs to be in your life to support or join you?