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5 ways to make the most of a gap year

Malia Obama and President Barack Obama
Mandel Ngan | Getty Images
Malia Obama and President Barack Obama

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.

1) Study

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.

Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT
Rick Friedman | Getty Images
Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT

2) Intern

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.


Harvey Weinstein attends the 'Lion' premiere and opening ceremony of the 12th Zurich Film Festival.
Alexander Koerner | Getty Images
Harvey Weinstein attends the 'Lion' premiere and opening ceremony of the 12th Zurich Film Festival.

3) Travel

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."


Sally McGrath in Peru during her gap year
Sally McGrath in Peru during her gap year

4) Work

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.


A Lyft driver and passengers
Mike Coppola | Getty Images
A Lyft driver and passengers

5) Create

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.