You’ve spent over 12 years in school and now, as a rising senior, you are staring down the barrel of another four or more years in school. Some of you might be jumping for joy about the idea of starting college right away while others of you may be thinking that you will legitimately lose your mind if you have to go to college directly after graduation. Well, for the latter group of you, there is a time-honored tradition called a “gap year” that will allow you to get the break you need.
Now, before you start dreaming of a yearlong weekend let’s get one thing straight about a gap year: it’s not about taking a year to get better acquainted with your couch. A gap year is an opportunity for you to take a year off from traditional schooling and do something enlightening. This “doing something enlightening” can take many different forms, just like your summer breaks during the school year. You could spend the whole year working a job saving money for college or learning about an industry you’re interested in pursuing at school. You could travel the world alone or on a program. You could spend the year teaching, volunteering, or studying something that you want to explore outside of traditional school. The possibilities are truly endless.
To help ground your potentially spinning head full of ideas for your incredible gap year, here are a few real programs you could go on for part or all of your gap year!
A final note on gap years: I know a gap year can sound exciting/scary/awesome/necessary to many of you. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for college this year. Colleges will usually let you defer your acceptance to the following year, so you can take a gap year and then enroll in college the year after you were accepted. This also will give you an end date for your gap year, so you don’t forget entirely about your education when you’re off exploring the world!