More and more young people are considering taking a "gap year." It can be a chance to make some extra money, gain experience and learn more about yourself before you make a big decision, like committing to college or a career.
No matter the reason, there are loads of great opportunities out there to use a gap year wisely. Here are 5 ways to make the most of your time off.
One Reddit user suggests that people continue to take classes to maintain momentum in their education. Especially if you are taking a gap year in the middle of getting a degree, it can be helpful to stay connected to the academic world.
If your hiatus comes in the middle of your career, learning a new skill can propel you to the next level.
Many schools provide condensed summer courses and companies like edX offer online classes from world-renowned institutions like MIT, Princeton, and Dartmouth.
It's no wonder that Malia Obama chose to intern with Harvey Weinstein before beginning her undergraduate degree at Harvard.
A gap year is a great time to learn from an internship in your chosen field. Gaining relevant job experience will give you valuable insight into an industry or work environment. Beyond that, internships help you establish relationships with professionals who can help you out later.
According to the job site Glassdoor, the national average internship compensation is about $33,120. If your dream internship does not pay, be sure to apply for grants, scholarships and fellowships.
Travel is a terrific tool for educating yourself about the world, especially if you have the resources. But it can also be done on the cheap, or you can make your trips self-sustaining.
Sally McGrath is a senior at Harvard University. Before she began her undergrad adventure, she chose to travel.
"Don't be afraid to travel alone. This is the one time in your life you won't be tied to a job or school or a family, so use the opportunity to challenge yourself and go outside of your comfort zone" says McGrath. "If you're nervous or not an experienced traveler, there are great companies that offer group trips for solo travelers you can look into."
One practical and perhaps underrated option is to work during your gap year. Some amazing entrepreneurs have found their passions while working low-skilled jobs. Rick Goings was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman before becoming the CEO of Tupperware. Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes sold pizza before he discovered his entrepreneurial streak.
Companies like Uber, Lift and Task Rabbit, among others, offer great flexibility so that you can pursue other interests while making some money.
If you have free time, fill it by making something you are passionate about. Write that screenplay you always talk about. Start a small business with your friends. Build you own app. Take advantage of your freedom while it lasts and give your dreams a chance to come true.