Student News

How to Be Productive If You’re Taking a Gap Year

Students should work to grow academically, professionally and personally during a gap year.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

September 11, 2020

Roughly 16% of students may be taking a gap year -- here's how they can make it count for their future.
How to Be Productive If You’re Taking a Gap Year
Gap year (noun) – a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between secondary school and higher education. A year ago, the gap year was practically a foreign concept. If you had friends overseas, you may have heard about it. President Barack Obama’s daughter, Malia, made it relevant a few years ago when she announced she was taking a gap year before attending Harvard. Otherwise, it’s more of a phenomenon than a cultural norm in America. Today, the gap year has undoubtedly grown in popularity, thanks to Coronavirus. For students that were struggling with whether or not it was safe, or financially feasible, to attend college in-person or virtually, the gap year has become a viable alternative option. In fact, a study from Art & Science Group, LLC, revealed that 16% of surveyed students stated that they were taking a gap year. Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here. However, the gap year should not be a year dedicated to wearing in Mom and Dad’s couch and attempting to reach the end of Netflix. Rather, it’s a time that should be used productively for academic, professional or personal growth. Below are a few ways that you can spend the gap year to your benefit.

Stay in Learning Mode with Online Classes

Today, it’s easier than ever to access premium online learning classes and content. You could say it’s one of the perks of Coronavirus. Whether users seek to learn more for the love of knowledge or utilize this time to increase their skill set, people are flocking to online learning platforms while staying at home. In order to help students, parents and educators find the best online learning platform for their needs, we created the Fastweb Online Learning Center. Through this tool, we show comparisons of different top e-learning sites as well as a list of the best free, online platforms. You can also search for the perfect site for your online learning needs. We have categorized virtual programs by subject matter as well as by price, giving users multiple avenues to find the best opportunity. This could also be the perfect time to master – or at least begin – learning a new language. Learning a new language can be a valuable skill, one that can enhance your resume and set you apart from the competition. It’s especially helpful at global companies. Check out our list of the best free learning sites for languages to get started.

Find a Part-Time Job

Ironically, you can find a job in the middle of the COVID recession. In a way, part-time workers are in more demand than ever. The part-time field has seen an increased need for grocery store employees, food and package delivery workers and COVID contract tracers. It’s a great, productive way to spend a gap year. Not only will you be gaining invaluable work experience, you’ll also be making (and saving!) money toward college. If you’re not taking a gap year, this year may provide you with a bit more free time than in the past, making a part-time job possible. Many high school and college students who are attending classes virtually or through a hybrid model are finding time to work a part-time schedule. Again, when will you have this much free time? Why not make a little money during your down time? You can find part-time jobs in your community on Fastweb. Our Part-Time Jobs Search is powered by Monster, making it easy for you to get all of the details for the job application as well as apply. Another alternative to a part-time job is a virtual internship. Many companies are providing students the unique opportunity to work virtually but still receive the benefits of an internship experience. Companies like Morgan Stanley and Facebook are offering virtual internships that include mentors, perks, and virtual hangouts. These virtual internships actually make it possible for students anywhere to complete an internship with a big- name corporation or organization, which would definitely enhance your resume during a gap year.

Gap Year Programs

During a typical year, gap year programs usually involve some type of domestic or international travel. Students can either participate in academic or service-based programs. Though things certainly look different this year, some gap year programs are still operating – with strict guidelines, of course. GapYearAssociation.org features a full directory of gap year programs that students can explore. The details include whether or not the gap year program is being conducted in-person, online or via a hybrid model. Programs are still enrolling for the fall as well as for winter and spring of 2020 – 21. Global Citizen Year offers full-immersion gap year programs for high school graduates that wish to take a year off before college. Each year, students are recruited and trained to live and work in communities throughout India, Brazil, Ecuador and Senegal. It is the hope that at the end of the program, these students have experienced the world in an unparalleled way and moved to make change happen. This year, Global Citizen Year is offering a virtual gap year academy. Through this program, students can engage in curriculum and hear from real world changers, like Arianna Huffington, Melinda Gates, and Sophia Bush. Students can expect to spend 10-15 hours a week with the virtual academy and receive college credit for doing so.

Make a Difference

Charitable organizations have always depended on the generosity of others; and during the global pandemic, they need help now more than ever. Which is good for you – because doing work in the community is a fantastic way to spend a gap year. At this point, many cities have put together a dedicated website for help in the community. These sites detail organizations that may need further help because of COVID. For instance, there may be elderly individuals near you who need others to grocery shop or pick up prescriptions for them. Homeless shelters may need younger, healthy volunteers to help clean facilities. If you can’t find local work, consider joining AmeriCorps, which is a network of national service programs that students can become involved with on a part-time or full-time basis. These service programs range from mentoring youth to fighting poverty to sustaining national parks. According to CNET, students serving in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps receive a stipend and scholarship money for college. Virtual volunteer work will provide life experience that college admissions committees and future employers love to see on applications. It will undoubtedly set you apart, and it will very likely change you.

Apply for Scholarships

Whatever you decide to do, you can manage to incorporate some scholarship search into your daily, or weekly, schedule. Taking a year off will enable you to save money now – and find scholarships to pay for college. Commit to applying to a certain amount of scholarships per week; it’s best to start with two. If you find that applying to two scholarships each week is very manageable, consider applying to more. After all, winning scholarships is a numbers game; which means the more you apply to, the greater your chances of winning. Start with our Gap Year Scholarships. Every few weeks, update your Fastweb profile to make sure you’re maximizing your scholarship matches. The more detailed you are, the better we’re able to deliver accurate matches to your account. And you know what will look great on all of your scholarship applications? Your volunteer work, part-time job, gap year program or continued learning. Don’t waste this time. Use it for your academic, professional or personal growth. Your post-COVID self with thank you.

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