A gap year is a one-year gap between graduation from high school and entering a university. Some young people take it to take a break from exams. Others – to understand themselves and understand what the soul really lies in. And someone, having not entered the university of their dreams, lays a year for intensive preparation for the Unified State Examination in order to pass it better next time.
Taking a gap year is not the most common practice in Russia. In contrast to the United States, where, according to a survey , more than a quarter of Americans prefer to take a year’s break before entering the university.
And indeed, this decision carries both pluses and minuses. We talk about them in order and share tips on how to organize a gap year so that it turns out to be useful and productive.
Cons of a gap year
A year’s break can be exciting, especially when you’re extremely tired after you’ve passed your final exams. However, those considering this option should be aware that they may become unaccustomed to the educational process or experience negative emotions.
1. Emergence of a sense of FoMO
FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a state in which a person is afraid to miss something interesting. So, if friends are ahead in studies by a year, he may feel that he is lagging behind life. And after listening to the stories of fellow freshmen, he will begin to think that he is missing out on an important experience. This will only lead to negative emotions, since it will no longer be possible to enter the first year overnight.
2. Weaning from the educational process
Remember how hard it is to integrate into school life after the holidays. However, they only last three months. And during the gap year, you can wean yourself from formal education even more.
Returning to an educational institution after a long absence, you will have to repeat the material covered, re-accustom yourself to discipline, and rebuild the grid of activities that has been formed over the year. All this may require additional effort.
Pros of a gap year
A year-long break can give you time to take a break, pursue a personal project, learn new skills, build a career plan, and more.
1. New experience
During this year, you will be able to try yourself in various guises: become a nanny under the Au pair program, go on a hitchhiking trip, participate in a volunteer program, organize your own small business. In the university years, such an opportunity, most likely, will no longer be presented: study will take all the attention. And when work starts, there may not be free time.
2. New skills and knowledge
This point is indirectly related to the first. Learning a foreign language, getting a driver’s license – all this is much easier when you do not need to allocate resources for studying at the university. In addition, during this time you can prepare for the re-taking the exam if the results of the previous year are not satisfactory.
3. Bonus for future resume
Some employers will not understand why you have a gap between school and university. But do not worry that this will reduce your chances of getting a position. On the contrary, if during the year’s break you have mastered the skills necessary for work and acquired useful experience, this will be a plus and help you stand out from the crowd.
How to make gap year useful and productive
Make a list of activities that you would like to do during the gap year and create a schedule . Choose them depending on your goals. Do you need a break in order to save money for your dream university? Or to realize your own business ambitions? Here are four areas for reflection.
Get a job
Perhaps this is not the most inspiring activity on the list. However, it will help you hone the skills needed for your future profession, or simply earn money to pay for part of the education or living in another city.
Therefore, the choice of a specific position depends on you: work as a freelancer, become a counselor in a camp, get a job as a waiter or a nanny. It is better if this profession is from the area with which you would like to connect your life in the future.
You can also try to get a job abroad – for example, in the hotel industry. But before that, it is important to prepare the ground in advance – at least six months before graduation. After all, you will need to choose a program, apply, apply for a passport , if not already, and much more.
Explore a new field or master a new skill
This column can contain both dream skills – those that you want to have, and those that are necessary for entering a university and applying for a future position.
For example, job search and change consultant Libria Jones advises : “Look for dream job descriptions – what knowledge and skills does the employer require? Take the time to study them. There are many online courses for this.
Take on a personal project
Perhaps, while studying at school, you came up with an idea for a project? But, most likely, you did not have time to implement it – you threw all your energy into preparing for exams and communicating with friends.
Gap year can be an ideal period to develop this project: you will finally find the strength to open a small business, write a book, create a photo exhibition, start a blog. Ideally, all this will grow into a source of income and help your future career.
Make friends and pals
No matter how you decide to spend your year off, making new connections will be a good addition to this extraordinary experience. Perhaps you will get a pen pal – for example, from the city in which you are going to enter. Or maybe expand your circle of acquaintances in the field of a potential profession. Most likely, some school friends will leave, and new friends will help you not get bored.
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