You’ve finished classes, and it seems like everyone is asking you the same question: “What are you doing after graduation?”
Maybe you’ve already decided that you’re heading to college ASAP, or perhaps you’re considering an alternative that’s gaining popularity across the country: a gap year.
What is a gap year, anyway? To put it simply, it’s a year off from school between high school and college (or undergrad and work/grad school). The possibilities for what to do during a gap year are endless! Is a gap year right for you? Check out the pros and cons of popular gap year ideas, and then decide for yourself.
Plan My Gap Year: What Are the Options?
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of starting college immediately, especially when you think about the costs. Fortunately, a gap year can help you take some space to regroup mentally after high school, AND it can allow you to offset the costs of your future degree.
Not sure how you’d spend your time off from school? Check out a few ideas for what to do during a gap year:
1. Get a part-time job.
If you’re living with your family for a gap year between high school and college, now is the time to save up some cash! Your living expenses will likely be pretty low so that you can plunk your paychecks into a savings account. A bonus: if you can find a job in a field you like, your resume will give you an edge when it’s time to hunt for a full-time job in a few years.
2. Chase after a passion project.
You know that one thing you never had time for while school was still in session? Guess what — you’ve got time for it now! Redecorate your bedroom, open a small business on Etsy, learn a language online, or start a podcast with a friend.
3. Get a head start on your degree.
Even if you’re not moving to a different state to attend school yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t start working on your classes. Take a few courses online or at a nearby community college. As long as your credits will transfer to your school of choice later, you’ll save some tuition money, too!
4. Look for formal gap year programs.
Some schools and organizations offer gap year programs that would let you volunteer in another state, teach English, or explore a new locale and culture. Some gap year programs even provide financial aid, so your gap year can be a low-stress time to learn and grow.
5. Volunteer in your community.
Traveling not an option? Your hometown could use your help, too. Offer your time to a local nonprofit, or head to a nearby food pantry or homeless shelter. These places can always use an extra set of hands, and you’ll get a new perspective on your community through your work.
6. Consider moving to a new city alone.
Nothing pushes you into adulthood like moving to a different state for a fresh start! Choose a place you’d like to live, find a job there, and go for it! Consider finding roommates or renting furniture from CORT to cut down on moving costs and living expenses.
A gap year isn’t for everyone, but if you’re feeling burnt out or unsure about attending college, time away from a classroom could be just the thing you need. A bit of thoughtful planning can help you make the most of a gap year, and you’ll come out on the other side with a new sense of independence… and probably some valuable skills and experiences!
Disadvantages of Taking a Gap Year Before College
Alright, you have to admit—a year off from school is starting to sound pretty appealing. But you can’t shake that voice in the back of your head that’s still asking, “Should I take a gap year?” Before you decide, consider a few disadvantages of taking a gap year before college.
Your friends might be in a different life stage than you.
If this doesn’t bother you, then you don’t have to worry about it! But keep in mind that if you have close friends who start college right away, it may be hard to stay in contact with them once school starts.
A gap year can be expensive.
Whether you’re choosing to travel or take classes during your gap year, those costs can add up—especially if it’s not feasible to work during your gap year.
You may have to find temporary housing.
Are you living at home? Great. Parents encouraging you to get your own place? Time to search for temporary housing—which could add even more expense to your gap year, not to mention the hassle of moving your stuff. Save yourself a headache with furniture rental from CORT, or search for a furnished apartment to make moving to a new state or city as easy as possible.
Your motivation could suffer.
Even if you’re sure you want to go to school in a year, your gap year could shift your mindset and make it difficult to get back into a school routine. But hey, you just might find that your gap year refreshes you and makes you even more excited for college!
Should I Take a Gap Year?
The choice is yours! No matter which path you choose, adventure awaits you. Furniture shouldn’t weigh you down while you explore a new chapter of your life. Whether you need furniture for college or your solo move to a new city during your gap year, CORT can give you the flexibility you need with short-term furniture rental. With CORT, you can rent what you need, where you need it, for as long as you need it.