Covid-19 has drastically affected the final semester of high school for graduating seniors. Proms, senior events, graduations and other celebrations were all canceled or postponed. The disappointments resulting from Covid-19 also presents an opportunity to consider a Gap Year. This post provides some ideas on how to successfully and effectively get through a gap year.
I imagine that the uncertainties and anxiety brought on by the pandemic has some 2020 high school graduates exploring their post-high school options. One consideration might be taking a gap year. A gap year occurs when recent high school graduates postpone college for one year in order to explore other interests.
Gap Year Defined
For some students, a gap year could simply be a year of taking a mental break from studying. Others might decide on a gap year because they are uncertain about what major to take in college. One might choose to travel for one year etc. There are so many reasons to take a gap year. No matter the reason, the gap year should provide growth.
The Why Gap Year Statement.
If you decide that taking a gap year is the right option for you, I suggest creating a plan beginning with a why statement. Create a pro and con list, including a why statement. The why statement should answer the reasons for a gap year and why a gap year is a good idea.
Create a Plan
After the Gap year statement has been created, the next step is to create a plan. Using the why statement creates a plan that meets the described in the why statement. Include in your plan goals to satisfy your why statement.
If the issue is uncertainty about a career path, consider going on a talent and purpose search. For a young adult, a gap year is a perfect time to discover who you really are by getting to know yourself better. Discovering a purpose includes asking and answering the following questions.
- What Do I do well?
- Things I enjoy doing?
- What lights me up?
If the issue is not knowing where to go to college. Then create a plan for how to decide on a school, with a timeline for committing to a college within one year. Visit some college campuses to explore their programs, sit in on some classes during your visits. You might want to travel, may want to take a mental break from studying, maybe you want to work and save up for college.
Whatever your reason, create a plan that provides solutions to help you move forward.
Create a S.M.A.R.T Plan
I like using smart synonym when creating a plan with a goal in mind. Your plan should use the S.M.A.R.T. process. Specific, the plan should specify what the gap year will achieve. Measurable, the plan should include benchmarks to measure successes. Achievable, the plan should include achievable goals, that are possible within the year. Realistic, the plan should include items that you have the skills and abilities to achieve within the year. Timely, this is crucial, the gap year has the timeline built-in. The plan should be one that can be achieved within the one year.
The goal of creating a plan is to provide focus. The plan may not work out as planned on paper but give yourself some grace because the plan is meant to provide guidance through the maze of figuring things out.
Refer back to the plan often because it will remind you of your why and your goals. The plan may need to be altered as you gain clarity. Give yourself grace, allow things to unfold as they may, alter the plan as you move along, but stay the course.
Interest-Focused Gap Year
If you already have interests that you’d like to explore, then use your gap year to explore these interests. Invest time in exploring your interests because this will provide greater clarity. The internet provides a lot of information on interest focused gap-year programs.
I found some interesting programs simply by asking Google. There are Christian focused programs, volunteer-based programs, technology-based programs. Whatever your interest is there are programs that cater to it. Just do some research and include your findings in your plan.
Learn Something New
A Gap Year presents a great opportunity for learning. Learn a new skill; cooking, tennis, take simple courses that can improve your soft skills, learn a new instrument. Include learning opportunities in your initial plan that will help you in resolving the issues in your why statement.
Creating a plan that is well articulated and that provides goals to meet, will be crucial in deciding which area of learning you can and should focus on.
Find mentors in the fields you are interested in and speak with them, ask for some time to shadow the workday and get a feel for the work. This will enable you to see if the work is interesting enough that you would want to spend your days involved in it.
Enjoy Your Time Off
It is important to go into your Gap Year with a plan because it’ll help you to achieve goals that will help you in the future. But as important as a plan is, enjoying the time is also crucial. Enjoy the time, use the freedom of the time to be young, and explore every possibility that presents itself.
Use this time as a time of discovery, explore things that you’ve always wanted to explore in the past but couldn’t. Enjoy being young and checking things off your list. Use this time as an opportunity to eliminate things you thought you wanted but now have the opportunity discovered isn’t for you.
Start where you are and create a plan with the intent of moving you forward on your path to success.
How are you planning on spending your Gap Year? or share how you spent your gap year.
thanks for exploring this topic with me
These are some great tips for people thinking about taking a gap year! It’s definitely an important decision to think through!
Josie | The Cheetah Buzz
This was such an interesting read! I known students who have taken a gap year but I have never heard it termed like that before. This is such a bizzare year for the class of 2020. First they were not granted the privelege of having a huge graduations and some even got their prom taken away and now they may have to consider skipping school for year. What a world we live in! Thanks for writing a piece that will help them get through this xxx
Thank you Josie for reading. One thing I know about the class of 2020 students in my life, they are resilient.
A gap year is a great year. By the time kids get to their final year of school, they’ve had enough of it and could do with a break. During the gap year, teens may get a job and hence improve their skill set. Responsibility also kicks in and so if they go to college thereafter makes more sense.