A gap year is a period taken by a student as a break from their studies or in between life stages, such as before entering university.
In 2014, between my senior year of high school and my first year of college, I remember there used to be a strong stigma around taking a gap year—especially at the international school I went to.
Everyone was extremely competitive and believed that there was only one way to succeed: the conventional academic track. To graduate “on time” was a measure of success.
So when I decided to take a gap year after my first semester of university, I received lots of raised eyebrows and looks of concern from peers, their parents, and school counselors.
It was a difficult major life decision to make, but I did it anyway since I had my own mission. I was lost and I wanted to allocate more time for experiences. An unconventional route was what I needed to find myself and my true passion.
A gap year is your time to rest, reflect and explore your identity. Some of you might feel afraid to venture into that path, but it could actually be an inspiring, exciting, and interesting experience. Most of all, a gap year can contribute to your personal, social, professional, and academic growth.
Here are some tips on how you can plan for a productive and fulfilling gap year:
Enhance life skills through internships, volunteer/work opportunities, and passion projects
Work on your competency, communication skills, networking skills, and flexibility when dealing with real-world challenges. Moreover, go find your passion by entertaining interests that were always there, but never really taken seriously and practiced. Start by thinking about your favorite subject, hobbies, talents, or a field of interest you’ve been curious about.
Remember to do all the preparations you need for university.
By taking a gap year, you are taking your own initiative. Therefore, you end up learning the value of independence and discipline.
Let these skills carry over to when you finally decide to go back to university. Know the requirements of the universities you apply to. Afterwards, make sure to study for the standardized tests or college entrance exams.
Also, don’t forget to put together a resume listing down all the internships, volunteer opportunities, and passion projects you preoccupied yourself with throughout the year. If you’ve created musical pieces, drawings and paintings, prepare a portfolio that you can submit with your application when applicable.
Go beyond the classroom walls and travel.
Immerse yourself in new cultures and languages. You will gain a competitive edge and newfound global perspective.
Trust yourself, make new friends and deep connections!
As you network and become active in a community of young professionals and fellow gap-year takers, enjoy their company as you learn from them and more about yourself.
At the end of the day, we all have our own paths and timelines to follow.
For some of us, taking the conventional academic track is what’s best; For others, it is taking a gap year. Ultimately, it depends on what we prioritize in life. Ask yourself: Which aspects in life do you want to focus on? It is a matter of trusting your choices and making the most of what you have. If you do you, everything will naturally fall into place.
Visit Edukasyon.ph’s College Life blog for more advice on finding your path, especially during the transition from high school to college.