Ok. So, you worked hard in high school and you aren’t ready to go to college. You feel like you need to take a gap year. What can you do for a year that will “fill the gap” and your parents will support it? Well, finding the right experience for this upcoming year depends on why you feel like you need to take the year off…
I didn’t get into a college that I’m excited about, so I’m going to take a PG year
Since getting into many desired colleges is becoming more and more competitive, many talented high school students are not getting accepted into a college they are excited about attending. So, now what? First of all, get over your disappointment. You have a lot to offer this world, you just need a little more time to show it. Here is a strategy for you. Take a Post Graduate “PG” Year. Have you ever wanted to be the big man or woman in high school? Well, taking a PG year is your chance. Basically, you can take a 5th year of high school. The downside is that this is not a cheap option since it will be at an expensive boarding school, but it can be very beneficial in a couple of situations. The PG year is a good strategy when you didn’t get into any colleges that you were hoping to attend. Likely, you primarily applied to only competitive college and so you didn’t get accepted into a school you were hoping to attend. The PG year gives you the chance to improve your academic resume, so you may be able to get into one of you desired reach colleges. It also gives you a year to learn about and apply to other colleges that might not be as hard to get into. The other positive scenario I have seen for a PG year is if you are a student that has a blemish on your academic profile and you need another year to show you are a serious student. For example, perhaps you had a rough year in high school for personal reasons which dramatically hurt your chances to attend college. A solid PG year can help show that the one low performing academic period was just a short-term blip for you, but you are back on track and would be a great addition to a University.
Resource: Post-Graduate Boarding School Reviews
I want to do something meaningful
Maybe you have been accepted to a college you are excited about, but you are a bit burnt out from working hard in high school. You just need a break before starting college and you want to find yourself. Or maybe you have been accepted to college for the 2nd semester and you want to do something meaningful for half a year. There are tons of terrific options for you to volunteer to help others in need. You can stay local and volunteer at a non-profit or charity in your area. Or you could go out of the country and help others in need in a foreign land while experiencing a different culture. Before you sign up for one of these volunteering opportunities it is important to ask yourself why you are doing it. If you are just trying to build your resume, then don’t bother. If you want to pay it forward and help those that are less fortunate than you, then good for you!
I want to see the world first
There is no easier way to see the world than Semester at Sea. This is a giant cruise ship of students, teachers, and crew that departs from Amsterdam in the Fall and ends up in San Diego almost four months later. Then in the Spring the ship departs San Diego and returns to Amsterdam. The ship usually stops at about a dozen countries along the way. While you are on the water, you and the other students will study about the countries and cultures you are going to visit. Then, when you dock in a country you have several days to go on excursions and explore. Most of the students on the ship are enrolled at four-year universities and get college credit for the courses they take on the trip. It is also possible to apply as a gap year student that has graduated from high school, but has deferred acceptance and has not yet attended a university. Semester at Sea does have a bit of a reputation as a party boat, but all the Semester at Sea students that I have known over the years talk about how the experience broadened their understanding of different cultures and world events tremendously.
I want to work before I go to college
Maybe you need to save up money before going to college. Or maybe you just feel like you need a little work experience before hitting the books again. Well, if you are going to work you should try to get paid well, right? Unless you are seven feet tall or an amazing songwriter, it is not likely that you are going to make much money with just a high school degree. You need to get some more skills to make the big bucks. One possibility is to go to a “Hacker Academy”. These are usually 12-week intensive crash courses on computer programing. Due to the booming technology job market, these hacker academies are in full demand and it seems like a new academy is founded every couple of months. To be clear, even if you are the best student, you can only really learn basic programming in 12-weeks. That being said, in this very tight job market, companies are hiring these hacker academy graduates and then letting them learn on the job. If you are very passionate about being a software programmer, then you really should go get a four-year degree in computer science because as a hacker academy student you aren’t getting the foundational programming education for long-term advancement and career growth. This means that as soon as the job market begins to soften, most of the hacker academy graduates will be the first to lose their jobs. That being said, the hacker academies can help you get some short-term, real-world career experience. Hacker Academies are also a good option for someone that graduated from a four-year college but then decided that they don’t like the career options open to someone with their major and would like to pursue a career in computer programing. An individual that goes through a hacker academy and then continues their computer science education through night classes or diligent self-study can have a successful career.
Resource: Hackbright Academy
So, don’t just sit around. Get going and make this a great year!