If you're not feeling ready for college, it's OK — I wasn't either. Sometimes going straight from high school to college is stressful, and you want a break. A lot of people wonder about the benefits from a gap year or what you can do for a whole year. I am currently wrapping up my gap year, and here is what I learned that others considering it might want to be aware of before deciding.
1. Have a job
Chances are, most of your friends will be in school or not around, so getting a job will help fill up your time, as well as save money if you plan on going to college. I worked in the food industry as a waitress and in retail as a sales associate and found that both are good for making money if you have enough hours.
Have a schedule in place for what you want to do for the year — whether that be travel, work, hang out with friends, or study for school, make sure you have it planned. The more unorganized you are, there's a better chance that it will be harder to have fun.
Not everyone has the money to do this, but I highly suggest either going to a state you've never been to before or overseas to somewhere like France or Spain. If you speak a foreign language this gap year is a really good time to perfect it and become fluent, so traveling for a month or more is a great idea. There are lots of great programs that only do month-long language intensives, semester-long, or year-long depending on your budget.
Not going to school for a whole year sounds great right? Well, don't forget if you're attending college in the fall, that that requires even more study and focus than high school. Make sure to do math problems for ten minutes a day to keep your skills intact. Reading books is a great way to maintain your English reading and writing abilities.
With lots of free time suddenly on your hands, it's easy to let go of your body and do whatever you want. It's almost like the rumored freshman 15, except for a gap year. I've found that just trying to maintain a steady and balanced diet and going on 2-3 walks a day, as well as some cardio, is a great way to keep your body in shape for school.
Finding new things to do is a great way to make new friends as well. Just by going to the library, town pool, or pursuing a sport you never did in high school can help fill up your time. Maybe starting to learn tennis, or going to the weekly yoga class will become your new thing. I found that going to the classes for teens at the YMCA or your town gym is a great way to meet people your age.
7. Be open minded
This is perhaps one of the hardest things that anyone has to do in their life, but the more people you meet, whether it's through work, town concerts, or yoga classes will often want to do something with you. Being more open-minded and trying new things is a must for taking a gap year because so many opportunities will present themselves just by saying yes to a cup of coffee or a weekend bowling competition.
8. Spend more time with family
If you're taking your gap year at home and can't afford to travel, try to spend more time with your family since you'll be gone the whole upcoming year. Having a game night or starting a new show (I highly suggest "Stranger Things") is a great way to spend time with them, especially after a long day of work.
Leave some time to go get your nails done, or go have a cup of coffee, or do face masks. Having time to relax is really important and during school, there wasn't a whole lot of time to do it. Now is the time to try to take care of your skin and body better.
Taking a gap year is something I would suggest if you don't feel ready for college yet. It helped give me the time I needed to save money for school and get organized. Even though school is not a must during this year, being on your own and having so much free time is a lot of work. The list above are all things I wish I would've thought more about or done during my gap year because having so much free time wasn't always easy for me. If you're someone thinking of doing a gap year, I hope that this list not only got you excited but gave you some good advice that you can use towards your year. Good luck!