A gap year is traditionally a year that a student takes off after finishing high school but before enrolling in college. Some students complete this year after finishing college but before going to work full-time. It gives you the chance to learn more about the field that you want to study and can help you decide on a major too. While taking time off is important for students who want to enter college feeling refreshed and ready to work, there are some alternatives to taking a year off that might interest you.
Take MOOC Classes
Massive Open Online Courses, also called MOOC classes, are classes offered by online colleges that allow students to study different topics without earning course credit. You can enroll in any class that you want to take and learn about subjects that you might not study in college. Some of the benefits of these courses include letting you gain knowledge on a new topic, giving you the freedom to learn at your own pace and helping you develop a competitive spirit. Those classes can keep knowledge fresh in your mind before you go to college too.
Go to Work
Taking a year off from school to work full-time or part-time is a great way to feel more independent. Many college students have a hard time moving away from home and taking care of their own needs because they always had their parents to take care of them. Going to work also lets you make more money that you can put back for school, even if you just want to make enough to cover your room, board and personal expenses. Depending on where you work, you may network with professionals working in your chosen field too.
Become a Volunteer
Finding a job after college is sometimes hard because you compete with so many other students who have the same basic level of experience as you do. Doing some volunteer work before going to college can give you some more experience and help you make connections that can lead to additional opportunities in the future. That company or organization might offer you an internship for school credit once you start school or a part-time job that you can do in the summers.
Enroll in a Community College
Though the point of a gap year is that it lets you take some time away from school, more and more students use that time to study at a lower level. Going to a community college in your area for a year can help you complete courses that the university you want to attend will require that you take. As community colleges charge less in tuition though, you can save money when you transfer those courses to the campus later. The more introductory and beginner courses that you get out of the way, the faster you can enroll in the program that you want to study. You’ll also have the chance to make new friends and gain opportunities that you won’t have time for in college.
Taking a year off from school is almost expected in some countries and regions because this year away lets students enroll in college with a clear mind. If you want to enter college with knowledge still fresh in your mind, you might look at gap year alternatives like becoming a volunteer or signing up for MOOC classes.
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