There was a time when taking a gap year between high school and college/university was considered a bad thing. It was assumed that any kid who didn’t go straight into college either didn’t have the grades or the funds. Kids who wanted some time off after high school would also be perceived as incompetent, astray, or troubled. Fortunately, now times have changed and many VIPs are raving about the benefits of taking a gap year. To be honest, graduating from high school is quite overwhelming, as it is a time when we are going through so many confusing thoughts and emotions.

Almost 70% of high school graduates attend college at some point in their lives. However, less than 25% of those who enroll into a Bachelor’s program right after graduating from high school know what they are doing. Most youngsters are clueless about their life goals, dream job, or career prospects. Many of them are just following their elders’ footsteps or doing what their parents deem suitable. As a result, the majority of us end up in a profession that makes us miserable every day for the rest of our life.

Students who take a gap year obtain some extra time to figure out their true calling. This whole year, where they have no commitment to academics, is ideal for self-discovery and contemplation. The admission staff at leading higher educational institutions have agreed that individuals who enroll after a gap year are somewhat more calm and confident. They usually lack the uncertainty and jitters observed in students who join straight out of high school.

However, recruiters and university examiners can be skeptical about how an applicant spent their gap year. Some gap years are spent better than others; under certain circumstances, a gap year might appear to be unproductive, or even a waste of time. If you spent most of your gap year sleeping at your parents’ house and binge-watching T.V shows, you can imagine how it would make you look. Therefore, it is important to utilize your extended break in ways that complement your resume. A gap year should be acknowledged as break from academics, but not from personal growth and development.

Here are the top five things you can do to make the best of your gap year:

1. Travel for Inspiration and Learning

Travelling abroad or visiting other states/cities in your own country is a great way to broaden your horizons. However, there is a difference between going for a vacation and travelling for a learning experience. If you can afford to travel abroad, use this opportunity to immerse in a foreign culture and expand your skill set while you’re there. If you are an artist, let the travelling inspire you to build an amazing portfolio and challenge yourself. There is so much to take in when you enter an unfamiliar environment and socialize with foreigners.

For example, if you visit a tropical region, you could spend all your time lounging on the beach, getting your tan, and sipping margaritas. On the contrary, you could take an initiative to learn about local marine species and even play a part in habitat conservation. You could stay in a luxury hotel all day or experience the authentic lifestyle of the locals in the area. If you are interested in the culinary industry, you can bring back some unique ideas from exotic cuisines.

2. Learn a New Language

If you can speak multiple languages, you will gain a professional and social advantage, no matter where you go. Multinational agencies are frequently seeking candidates who can help them form alliances or partnerships with foreign business tycoons. Believe it or not, learning a new language makes your brain bigger and improves memory. It is the ultimate technique to increase your IQ and enhance your cognitive abilities. It also helps improve your communication skills and get better at multitasking. A variety of spoken and written languages on your CV is bound to impress the audience. It also opens doors to seek education and employment opportunities in a foreign country.

3. Be a Tutor or Mentor

If you see yourself becoming a coach or teacher one day, a gap year is the ideal time to test your strengths and weaknesses for the position. You can tutor children in your neighborhood or even work at your old school if you had good PR. You may teach through digital platforms or make video tutorials to help students worldwide. Try signing up as a supervisor or student counsellor at a summer camp of your choice as well. Tutoring and mentoring will improve your own understanding on taught subjects, and you might even earn some good cash out of it. You will end up helping and inspiring many children, whilst building a decent resume.

4. Find a Job or Internship that supplements your Career Goals

Once you have concluded that which industry is right for you, it is time to test your theories. For example, if you believe that you have what it takes to become the next Gordon Ramsey, expose yourself to that particular environment. Apply for an internship with a renowned chef or score an entry level job at one of your favorite restaurants in town. The experience will allow you to evaluate your choice on a practical level. The internship could become the best time or your life, or help you realize that this is a mistake, which will save you from a long life of regret. Paid or un-paid, internships are a great way to get a taste of the adult life and understand the true meaning of independence.

5. Volunteer for a Good Cause

Nothing beats serving humanity and doing some good for the world. Not everything you do should be an obligation or a means of making money. You will come across a huge list of NGOs and government agencies who are always looking for young volunteers to participate in programs established for a good cause. You may have to travel to far off places in order to help victims of natural and anthropogenic disasters. You can offer your assistance in managing homeless shelters, animal rescue services, raising awareness for public health issues, and several other kinds of charity work.

You could initiate a campaign that helps teenagers understand the risks of drunk driving and the consequences of DUI/DWI crimes. You may visit old homes and report negligent staff or ongoing illegal activities. There are so many ways you can make the world a better place while you realize your passion during the gap year. Doing something selfless for the earth and its inhabitants will make you a better person in your own eyes and a valuable candidate in the eyes of spectators.

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