9 Pieces Of Advice For People Considering A Gap Year

9 Pieces Of Advice For Anyone Who's Thinking Of Taking A Gap Year

I did a gap year this past year, and learned some important things along the way.

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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.

2. Make a plan

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.

3. Travel

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.

4. Keep your studies up

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.

5. Exercise regularly

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.

6. Focus on new hobbies

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.

9. Self care

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!

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.
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When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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Why You Should Bring Your Close Friend As Your Formal Date

Before asking that cute girl to formal think about asking a friend

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Every year since I was a junior in high school I have always looked forward to homecoming or prom. When I got to college I began to look forward to my fraternity formal. I was never concerned with what to wear or the expense of formal but rather who I was going to ask. It can be difficult to make a decision. If you ask anyone friends with me they will tell you how I am one of the most indecisive people out there. There are so many people I am friendly with or have a close relationship that it can feel difficult to make a decision. But let's look at that phrase again. You might think why does he want to bring someone who is his friend to his fraternity formal rather than someone he likes or is dating. To answer this question, some of the girls I have liked I have not been able to be the true me around and that also applies to the girls I have dated as well. I am different around my friends and I want someone to know the real me rather than me just having to pretend.

Maybe I am still experiencing the effects of a fun weekend but I have noticed that every formal or prom that I have brought a date with not only was a fun formal but interacted and connected well with my friends. That is the main thing I look for in a formal date, they need to be liked by my friends and many of them are still pretty friendly after the formal. You are spending the weekend with them and the drive down for you formal. There will be a lot of time spent with your date so it is important to bring someone you know you will have fun with. I am not saying that there isn't anything wrong with bringing someone else but I always found it best to bring a friend if you are not dating someone.

Think about the people you know you will always have fun with. This can be an indication of who you should bring and why but you should also think about the positives in this situation. Your fun and the time spent with the people should be prioritized before anything else. This event is about you and you should have someone with you that you know is fun to be around and someone you can enjoy yourself around along with your friends. Friends know you as well as you know yourself so there is not an idea of having to pretend to be someone else. The good thing about friends is that you do not run out of things to talk about and there is always something new to learn. Take your formal as a trip that you get to experience with the people closest to you. That is my take.

The key for me is to know that I will have fun with my date at formal. The drive to formal can be long and you are sharing a hotel room with your date along with spending time with them during the trip. I talk a lot. I want someone I know who I can carry a conversation with and will not just respond with words such as Yeah or Sounds good. I have always been able to remember not only my formals but specific parts of it as well. I think this is possible because of who I have brought and the memories I made with them.

Formals are important to everyone so think about who you want to spend that moment with. There is nothing wrong with bringing someone who you like but there also is nothing wrong with bringing a friend. Some people might bring someone they are dating but you should not have to compare yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy but remember this weekend is about you and you deserve to bring someone you will have fun with.

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