The Benefits Of Taking A Gap Year After College

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Taking a gap year after college is not for everyone, but, if you are willing to take the plunge, it can be an incredible opportunity! Your 20s (especially right after you complete college) are the prime time to complete a gap year before the other responsibilities of life possibly inhibit you from doing so.

Some of the benefits of pursuing a gap year

  • If you plan on pursuing graduate schoolTaking time off from academics will allow you to recuperate and you can resume your studies with energy and motivation.
  • If you are unsure of what you want to do next – If you don’t know what your next steps are, a gap year after college can provide the time and opportunity for self-reflection.
  • The opportunity to explore – A gap year provides the opportunity to see the world before you have traditional obligations.
  • You can build your resume – You can take advantage of this time to make a positive impact on the community through volunteering or other hobbies.
  • Pursuing your dreams – If you are interested in pursuing a field or career that varies from the specific degree you graduated with, a gap year is a perfect opportunity to explore that avenue and see if that career is possibly right for you.
  • You can develop and master critical life skills – In addition to building your resume through experiences, taking a gap year also enables you to develop and master important life skills.
  • It can save time and money – If you are unsure of what you want to do, jumping into a job or another degree can be a costly mistake. Save time and money by figuring out exactly what you want to do!
  • You will become a more well-rounded individual – Even if your gap year ambitions are not directly related to your future career, you can still create a well-rounded experience that is beneficial for you in the long run.
  • You can meet new people – You can make new friends, expand your social circle, and also acquire additional references for letters of recommendation.

If you plan on taking a gap year, set goals regarding what you want to accomplish. Whatever your heart desires can serve as the foundation of your gap year, just make sure you know what it is!

Skip to Actionable Steps




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Longer Version


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High School –> College –> Graduate School –> Corporate Job
Though this might be the most popular route, it is NOT the right path for everyone and is not the magic recipe for success either.

The benefits of taking a gap year after graduation

  • If you plan on pursuing graduate school. If you know you want to begin a graduate degree but aren’t sure if it’s the right time, taking a gap year after earning your bachelor’s degree could be a great idea. By taking a much-needed break, you will feel refreshed. Then, upon the start of your program, you will be less likely to burnout from school. Taking some time off from academics will allow you to recuperate. Afterward, you can resume your studies with energy and motivation. In addition, it will enable you to take your education seriously upon return.
  • If you are unsure of what you want to do next. If you don’t know what your next steps are in general, a gap year after college can provide the time and opportunity for self-reflection. Sometimes a change of scenery and a fresh start can provide the clarity you are looking for. Then, with a breath of fresh air, you will have a clearer vision of what you want to do.
  • You have the opportunity to explore. Traveling is a wonderful opportunity that people take advantage of during all walks of life. A gap year provides the opportunity to see the world before you have the traditional obligations of a full-time job, graduate school, caring for a family, etc.
  • You can still build your resume. Just because you do not have a traditional 9-5 immediately after college does not mean you can’t do productive, meaningful things that load up your resume and prepare you for your career. For example, you can take advantage of this time and make a positive impact on the community through volunteering or other hobbies. Additionally, you can gain internship or part-time work experience in an area that relates to your degree.
  • You can take advantage of pursuing your dreams. If you are interested in pursuing a field or career that varies from the degree you graduated with, a gap year is a perfect opportunity to explore that avenue and see if that career is possibly right for you. It is better to figure this out while still in your 20s and fresh out of college than to work in a field that isn’t right for you for the next 30 years.
  • You can develop and master critical life skills. In addition to building your resume through experiences, taking a gap year after college also enables you to develop and master important life skills. Mastering independence, money management, discipline, confidence, organization skills, and responsibility are all invaluable skills that are transferable to multiple careers. You are learning and growing during this time and this will help you be successful in the long run.
  • It can save time and money. If you are unsure of what you want to do, jumping into a job or another degree can be a costly mistake. Some people begin work or school because they feel that they do not have any other choice… this is not necessarily the answer! For example, if you begin another degree and ultimately do not want to pursue that field, you will be left feeling lost and frustrated. You may have even racked up student debt along the way. So, take the time you need to finalize this big decision in order to save yourself valuable time and money.
  • You will become a more well-rounded individual. Even if your gap year ambitions are not directly related to your future career, you can still create a well-rounded experience that benefits you in the long run. This also provides the opportunity to make money during this timeframe.
  • You can meet new people. New experiences, new opportunities, and new people! Taking a gap year is wonderful for networking, and benefits you both personally and professionally. You can make new friends and expand your social circle, and also acquire additional references for letters of recommendation.

Take the time you need to finalize this big decision in order to save yourself valuable time and money.

Still unsure?

If you feel taking a gap year might not be a good idea for the long term or could “set you back,” do not worry. Or, perhaps you are fearful of a possible negative impact on your career; do not worry. If people share negative feedback or opinions with you on this topic, do not worry.

I know taking this step might feel like a giant leap but it should not be written off due to uncertainties. Though it is not for everyone, it is an ideal move for some. If you’re concerned about possible negative long term repercussions, the opposite proves to be true for a lot of people. For many, taking a gap year actually makes a hugely positive impact on their careers.

Ready, set, PLAN

If you plan on taking a gap year, set goals and determine what you want to accomplish during that time. Do you want to travel? Volunteer? Take a paid internship in an area you are considering for a future career? Now is the time to explore, try new things, and figure out what is right for you and what isn’t.

If you decide to move forward with this adventure, I advise you to act with intention. Set yourself up for success by treating this endeavor with proper intent.

A gap year is the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of adventures. It is not an excuse to sit back and not do anything.

Whatever your heart desires can serve as the foundation of your gap year, just make sure you figure out what it is first. It is important to have clear goals and outcomes of exactly what will make this gap year a success for you. This way, it will not feel like a waste of time and money 12 months later.

To sum it all up

Taking a gap year can come with numerous benefits, and is absolutely worth considering. Just because society paints a picture of what you should do to be successful, does not mean you have to limit yourself. Embracing this experience is a wonderful opportunity that might not come around again… Therefore, I encourage you to take advantage of the freedom and opportunity to make the right choice for you. Go for it!  

Actionable Steps


1

Do your research

Be aware that taking a gap year is not for everyone; do some research and explore the numerous benefits that can come with taking the leap and going for it.

2

Be brave

Do not let doubt or the opinions of others influence your decision. Take time to do some self-reflection and make the decision that is ultimately best for you.

3

Be intentional

If you decide to move forward, be organized and intentional in making a plan. Set clear goals so your gap year will be a success.

Still need help? Ask the coaches!

About the Author


Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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