Questions to ask yourself before a gap year – Forbes Advisor – Forbes | Vette Leader

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Students looking for learning experiences outside of the classroom may consider a gap year. This school break allows learners to develop a better awareness of themselves, including their career and educational aspirations. Personal development at such a crucial time can provide helpful insights that can influence students’ future academic, professional and personal lives.

Are you interested in a gap year? You might want to ask yourself a few questions first.

What is a gap year?

A gap year is a period of time when students spend time outside of their formal education to pursue other experiences, such as travel. Many of these learners take an entire year off between high school and college, as recent high school graduates often feel overwhelmed by the pressure of making college and career choices at such a young age. A gap year can provide these students with additional time to step back and consider their options.

A gap year can be of any length and can occur at any point in a student’s academic career. For example, some learners take time off during their studies or between their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Students can use a gap year to participate in learning experiences outside of the classroom and focus on their personal growth. This period allows learners to explore their interests and educational and professional goals.

What are the benefits of a gap year?

A gap year offers development opportunities in a critical transition phase. Students can travel, pursue employment, volunteer, or simply take time out to relieve stress.

A gap year can also help students become more independent and confident as they return to their formal education. These qualities allow learners to get the most out of their education and feel more confident that they are making the right investments in themselves.

The most important questions to ask yourself before taking a gap year

Before you decide whether a gap year makes sense or not, ask yourself the following questions:

What are the advantages of a gap year for you?

A gap year is an opportunity to rest, reflect and plan. High school graduates who are unsure about choosing the right school can use a gap year for campus visits and job interviews, for example.

After the stressors of high school, many students experience burnout and want to start college on the right foot. A gap year between high school and college allows learners to address mental health issues without the added pressure of college.

What are you planning to do with your gap year?

Would you use your gap year to work or to rest? Would you rather stay at home or travel? Figure out how you would like to spend your time outside of school and start making a plan. For example, if you plan to spend your gap year traveling, start researching airfares and accommodations and creating a budget for your travels.

Also, if you plan to work or volunteer during your gap year, remember that it will take time to fill out applications and receive responses. Plan ahead to check for available opportunities and apply as early as possible.

What would you like to learn or achieve during your gap year?

Some learners take a gap year to rest, recharge, and focus on themselves. Others set specific professional or personal goals in order to put themselves on the road to success for the next step in their education. Knowing what you want to get out of your gap year can help you determine what to put into it.

For example, gap year students who travel can immerse themselves in different cultures around the world. Leaving home and spending time away from friends and family can help build independence and an understanding of the world. If you’re looking to self-actualize during your gap year, you might consider travel.

On the other hand, if you want to gain a foothold professionally, you can use your gap year for an internship or a career start.

Can a gap year be financially financed?

It’s important to plan for the potential costs of your gap year. Students who plan to work during their gap year may have less to worry about, although student loans will still accrue interest during this time. Likewise, learners who are earning an income may be entitled to less need-based assistance when they return to school.

Learners planning to travel or volunteer need to understand the financial implications of a gap year. Without a steady income or savings, younger students spending time between high school and college can accumulate credit card debt during that time. This could have long-term implications beyond college.

Some schools offer financial aid to gap year students to fund their gap year. This help allows learners to pursue their gap year goals without worrying about income. However, most grants require careful planning for eventual repayment. Before you interrupt your education, be sure to check whether you can afford it financially.

Do you plan on going to college later? Should you apply later or ask for a referral?

If you are confident in your university choice, you can apply for admission and then request a one-year deferral if your application is accepted. Otherwise, you can wait until after or during your gap year to apply, in which case you can spend your free time researching more universities, programs, and financial aid opportunities.

Do you have a plan for transitioning out of your gap year?

While your gap year may take you in a professional or personal direction that you didn’t initially plan for, it’s important to plan your transition back into education. Research shows that 90% of students who take an educational break re-enroll after a year, and careful planning can make this transition smooth.

Going back to school requires you to look at your education and gap year as a whole. Students taking a leave of absence from school should ensure that gap year experiences such as employment, travel or volunteering do not overlap with re-enrollment.

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