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How to Have a Productive Gap Year

The key to a successful gap year is to begin your planning early.

Erica Cirino, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

April 08, 2015

How to Have a Productive Gap Year
It has become increasingly popular for new high school graduates to take a gap year before they begin their college careers. This gap year can be spent in a variety of ways, from interning to traveling the world. A gap year can help you determine what field you would like to study, as well as work in. This, in turn, can make it easier to choose the academic path that is most applicable to your long-term career and life goals. The key to a successful gap year is to begin your planning early. If you wait until September to decide your course of action, you may miss out on valuable opportunities.

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If you are contemplating a gap year, consider starting your planning early in the spring of your senior year of high school. The three steps below can help guide you through this process:
1. Determine the purpose and length of your gap year
The first thing you should figure out as you plan your gap year is how you want to spend it. You can research options on the internet, as well as ask your high school guidance counselor and parents for their input.

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Keep your budget in mind, and be realistic with your gap year goals. After you determine the purpose of your gap year, you will need to consider its length. While most gap years span a standard college year (i.e. late August through late May), some students prefer their gap year to be shorter or longer.

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No matter the length of your gap year, you can still apply to college at any time. If you are accepted to a school mid-gap year, most colleges will allow you to defer your admission for a period of time. This can add some flexibility to the length of your gap year, and it can allow you to pursue opportunities that may arise mid-experience.
2. Plan out details in advance
Once you decide on your gap year’s purpose, you will need to begin building a concrete plan. Most gap year activities – including interning, traveling, and working – require some form of preparation. This might mean filling out an application for employment or booking plane tickets for an international trip. Completing these tasks sooner, rather than later, increases the likelihood that your gap year will move forward smoothly. You will not be scrambling to request letters of recommendation for an internship or to secure a passport, both of which may jeopardize your gap year plan.
3. Double-check your plan
Once you complete your gap year plan, check it again – and after that, check it often. If you are planning to work or to intern, confirm with your potential employer or internship supervisor that you have submitted all of your application materials. If you are traveling, ensure that your itinerary is up-to-date. International travel regulations often change, so monitor your destination country or countries for important information. Creating a gap year plan in advance will help you ensure that this experience is as successful as possible. Enjoy your gap year!

Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a technology platform for private academic tutoring and test prep designed to help students at all levels of education achieve academic excellence.

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