So you’ve finally finished high school, but you’re not quite ready to dive back into the drudgery of studying and completing homework assignments that would come with immediately enrolling in college. Still, you’d like to keep learning and growing despite needing a break from your formal education. If so, taking a gap year to explore some different opportunities might be the right choice for you. Read on to learn about some ways to be productive during your time after secondary school.
Become an Apprentice or Intern
If you’re wondering why take a gap year, it’s because there are lots of things to experience when you take a break from school. For instance, gaining experience in a trade or business is a great way to keep your mind engaged while you learn a new skill. It can also be an excellent way to identify what career path you might want to pursue after college. Apprenticeships are available in a multitude of disciplines, including carpentry, agriculture, engineering, animal care and more. In most cases, you’ll work alongside an experienced mentor who will guide you in mastering key skills. Apprenticeships are often paid experiences that provide you with credentials to continue working in the field you’ve trained in.
As with apprenticeships, internships can provide you with on-the-job learning experiences during your gap year. While internships are typically unpaid, they can be another great way to get your foot in the door and test-drive a future career option. Internships are also often available in a variety of professional fields, such as law, medicine, accounting, communications, etc.
Travel and Volunteer Overseas
Using your gap year to visit other countries can be an invaluable way to, quite literally, expose yourself to a whole new world. To get the most out of your time overseas, consider becoming involved in volunteer opportunities. Providing community services by working with local or international organizations can be a very enriching experience on many levels. As with an apprenticeship or internship, you’ll be gaining new skills and making connections you can hold onto in the future. You’ll also likely be rewarded with the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are lending a helping hand to others who may not be as fortunate as you are.
In many cases, no special skills are required to volunteer internationally. It isn’t even necessary to speak a foreign language, although you’ll likely find that volunteering alongside people from many countries will help you expand your global lexicon. Exploring new countries while helping others can be the perfect way to stay mentally engaged during the time between high school and college.
Start a Business
If you’re really up for a challenge, you might opt to take some time following your high school graduation to try out entrepreneurship. This can be an exciting way to keep learning, and of course starting a business can earn you some money while you expand your horizons. Perhaps you’ve always been driven to achieve and succeed, and maybe you’ve even been brainstorming some ideas to provide innovative services to others. If you’ve come up with an enterprise you’d like to try out, work up a business model that includes an understanding of your potential market, a plan for funding your operations, and a launching strategy. Then give it a go!
It’s important not to become discouraged if your initial plans don’t pan out. One of the traits shared by many successful entrepreneurs is the ability to persevere and work through challenges. Using your gap year to create a business can teach you a lot about yourself and lay the groundwork for a promising future.
Taking a break after 12 years of traditional education doesn’t necessarily mean you want to shut off your brain and veg out. Whether you like the idea of learning a new skill or trade, helping out others overseas or diving into entrepreneurship, there are plenty of ways to keep your mind active during a gap year after high school.