Gap Year After High School or College Graduation

Another Option for New High School and College Graduates

College graduates with diplomas
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As graduation approaches and many students have still have not found a job and are not interested in immediately going on to grad school, have considered taking a gap year after graduation.

Why Take a Gap Year?

Many new graduates, both high school, and college, are finding that a gap year affords them the time to spread their wings and find out what they really want to do with their future and their life. In the past, it was believed that getting a job or going immediately on to graduate school were the only options. But with many more options available and a slow economy, taking a Gap Year after college can be a very worthwhile experience.

It's Important Not to Panic

As some students approach graduation, they begin experiencing a sense of dread because they haven’t figure out what they want to do and their attempts of finding a job have not been successful. Although it may seem to them that everyone else has a job or knows the direction they want to take after college, the truth is that many new graduates are still in the exploration stage when it comes to committing to a full-time career for the future.

Students who have not yet firmed up their after college plans may begin to feel a sense of panic. Many of these students thought that by the time they were in their senior year of college, they would have a clear idea of what they wanted to do after graduation. Their panic really sets in when they find that many of their peers know exactly what they’ll be doing after graduation, which can make the undecided student feel overwhelmed and as if there’s something wrong since they have not yet come close to making a career decision.

Gap Years May Be the Right Decision for Those Who Don't Yet Know What They Want to Do

Of course, there are those rare students who already know what they want to do and have known this for quite a long period of time. It’s hard to understand why some students are so determined and aware of their future aspirations early on while others are still sorting things out throughout their college years and beyond. The important thing to know is that everyone is different and although some may make their decisions early while others take a little longer in the decision-making process, ultimately it does not reflect on the type of career or the attainment of job satisfaction that either group will achieve as they move forward in their future careers.

For some students, a gap year means a time to unwind and relax. After all, spending the last four years completing challenging and rigorous courses in college; they absolutely need some time to take a break and not worry about finding a job or adapting to the workforce. These new graduates may decide to do some traveling, or they may just veg out at home and take advantage of a free place to live. Since each individual is different, there is no right way to do it; but it is recommended that whatever you decide to do that you also remain engaged and do something that will further develop your skills and help you gain new knowledge.

How Taking a Gap Year May Help

A gap year experience can truly be a time to get to know yourself better. Trying new things and meeting new people can be enlightening and a positive experience where you can also take some time to reflect on your personal strengths, interests, and skills that could lead you to your first full-time job. Completing an internship, volunteer experience, or a job abroad can be an opportunity to learn more about the customs and way of life of people from other countries. In this global marketplace, many businesses prefer applicants who have spent some time abroad.

Living and working with individuals from around the world can be very helpful when working with a diverse group of people both inside and outside of an organization.

For those unable to get a part or full-time job, doing volunteer work is a great option. Whether you volunteer in the states or abroad, volunteering helps develop leadership, teamwork, and the ability to work successfully with a diverse group of people. Developing or improving on these valuable transferable skills will be seen as a positive to most employers. In comparison to someone who just decides to take a year off, a new graduate who makes the most of their GAP year experience will be seen as a more motivated and resourceful individual as well as a positive addition to any employer who may decide to hire them.

For more information, be sure to check out 50 Inspiring Gap Year Ideas for High School Students.