The Ultimate Guide to Taking a Gap Year after High School

Now that high school is nearly coming to an end, you might be thinking about your next steps. Maybe you have already been admitted to your dream college, but feel like it’s not the right time yet. That’s where a gap year comes in.

It’s a time to reflect and focus on yourself, or simply boost your resume or college application forms… In this Ultimate Guide to Taking a Gap Year after High School, we would love to talk you through the benefits, the best ways to spend a gap year and things you can do in preparation.


What is a gap year?

A gap year is a semester or year off from school that students typically take right after high school.  Some students want to take this break from school to focus on their personal development, while others use it to build their resume and gain work experience. The reasons for taking a gap year can be very diverse, so there’s no all-size-fits-all approach to spending a gap year.

Taking a Gap Year after High School


Why should I take a gap year after high school?

The time right after high school is probably the easiest time in a person’s life to take a gap year. Lots of colleges already encourage their students to take a gap year before they start their study, meaning they have a deferral policy in place. Once you have sorted your deferral for college, you’re free to spend this year however you like.


These are some of the biggest benefits of taking a gap year before college:

✓ You will learn and grow as a person

✓ You will learn to travel in a safe environment

✓ You will meet new people

✓ Your college likes the idea

✓ Employers dig it too


Read about 10 more reasons to take a gap year here.

Taking a Gap Year after High School


What can I do on a gap year after high school?

1. Gain work experience

One of the most common reasons students take a gap year after high school is to get a job and gain some work experience. Getting work experience can help you save money or give a boost to your college application process if you’re still working on this, as well as help you explore your interests and see what it's like to work in your chosen field. This exploration period leaves the window of possibilities wide open.

If you decide during this time that maybe your chosen field is not what you expected, that's okay! There is no better time to realize this, and you have the freedom to explore until you find something you have a true passion for. A study from the Gap Year Association shows that students who took a gap year reported higher job satisfaction. It is so important to keep this in mind.

When you're choosing a field of study and work, you need to remember that this is going to be where you'll spend most of your time. Of course, there is always room for flexibility and exploration. But you should also be looking towards a goal of finding something you woud be happy doing for the rest of your life.


2. Make a difference by volunteering

A gap year is a great time to give back. Some high school students might have been eying a local volunteer organization for a while, but never had time to get involved in it because of the busy school work. Others want to combine a travel experience with volunteer work so they can truly immerse themselves in a foreign culture by working alongside local communities. 

Organizing this can prove to be difficult, which is why gap year organizations like Pacific Discovery can take the stress of the logistics out of your hands. They get you organized and match you up with a small group of like-minded gap year students.


3. Go on an adventure

Life is too short to sit around and watch life go by. There are very few times in a person’s life that they are in-between things and have the option to go out and see the world. 

Everyone deserves an adventure, and a gap year program abroad is the best way to make this happen, which is probably why this is the most popular way to spend a gap year. In a 2020 survey by the Gap Year Association, 89% of students reported spending at least part of their gap year abroad. 

There’s a huge variety of gap year options out there, each designed for a different student. Some might look for a volunteering program or a program focused on learning a new language. The adventure traveler on the other hand will likely look at the Adventure Guide Programs and Work & Train Program we have on offer. These programs have you exploring a new country, heading into the wild and even gaining rock climbing and hiking qualifications. 

Taking a Gap Year after High School


How can I prepare for a gap year?

Step 1 - Reflect

High school barely gave you enough time to gather your thoughts, especially with senior year being as busy as it is with college applications. Taking a gap year will give your mind a break, so you can focus your thoughts on what you truly want out of life and higher education. Oftentimes, gap year students come back to school with a better understanding of what they want to study and major in.

But this is just one of many reasons high school graduates take a gap year. Think about why you want to take a gap year and what you want to gain from it. This will give you a good idea of what you should do during this gap year.


Step 2 - Discuss

Now that you have thought about your personal goal, it’s time to have a conversation with your parents. Giving them a clear explanation gives them time to get used to the idea and eventually support you through it. They might even help you financially, which is crucial information.


Step 3 - Do Research

Depending on what you want to do during your gap year, you will have to research different things. If you are looking at gaining work experience, you will have to look for job adverts or try and secure an internship. 

If you are looking to travel or volunteer, your next step would be to do research into potential gap year organizations. There are a lot of them, but there’s no reason to get overwhelmed. Organizations like Pure Exploration have program advisors that will happily talk you through the possibilities and help you find the right program fit.

Taking a Gap Year after High School


The Takeaway

Taking a gap year after high school could be just what you need. 98% of former gap year students reported an increase in their maturity level, 97% raved about the increase in self-confidence, and 84% even said their gap year made them more academically motivated. 

If you think you might be interested in our gap year programs and are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, get in touch with us. We hope to hear from you, and promise you won’t regret it.


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