It’s graduation season, and if you’re not crazy about the idea of going straight from high school to college once you’ve crossed the stage, then you may be looking for a meaningful way to spend the next year.
If you’ve ever considered a gap year, you know that there are limitless ways to spend your time, from volunteering abroad to brushing up on some new skills.
Though some parents may worry about gap years, taking some time off before diving right into school can offer a great opportunity to get clarity on yourself and what you might be interested in doing in the future. So, if you’re not yet clear on what you want to study, what kind of career you may want to pursue, or are on the fence about where you’d like to go to school, a gap year might be the perfect thing for you.
While certain gap programs might earn you some money, others will cost something to participate in. So you might want to start saving for your gap year now.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great summer jobs and part-time jobs that can help you save. No matter your situation, there are often scholarships available, and you can always fundraise money from people in your community.
Ahead are six ideas for ways to spend your gap year. Whether you’re interested in building a new skillset, learning a new language, or being in nature, there’s a gap year plan for you.
Fight climate change and learn about conservation
If you're concerned about the state of the planet (as you should be) then why not use your gap year to do something about it? There are countless opportunities to participate, whether it's marine conservation, jungle conservation, or wildlife conservation, there's an opportunity for you to do good during your year off.
Teach English and make money in a new country
If you want to travel to a new place and do something meaningful, teaching English in another country might be the perfect combination. Most programs provide legal working visas, support and orientation, and opportunities for growth. The salary will vary depending on your educational level, TEFL qualification, and amount of teaching experience. And though many teaching opportunities require a bachelor’s degree, some programs will allow you to teach English without one.
Learn another language and immerse yourself in another culture
The demand for bilingual workers has increased in recent years, and knowing another language can boost your job prospects in the future. So why not learn one during your gap year? Whether you want to learn Mandarin or Spanish, there are several immersion programs available; you’ll be able to spend time in another country and stay with a family who can help you learn quickly and soak up all the local culture has to offer.
Get scuba diving-certified and learn about ocean conservation
Whether you’re passionate about ocean conservation or just want to gain a new skill, learning to scuba dive is a great way to spend your time. Many of the diving courses available will make you an internationally approved dive instructor. Certifications aside, learning to scuba dive will connect you with nature, help you build leadership skills, and could even translate to a diving career.
Become a ski or snowboard instructor in another country
If the beach isn’t for you, then maybe the slopes are. There are ski and snowboard instructor courses designed specifically for gap year students. Whether you want to live in Canada or Europe, chances are there's a program that allows you to spend time in the mountains, learn about a different culture, and get certified to teach others to ski or snowboard.
Start a travel blog and make money doing it
If a pre-planned gap year program isn’t your style, then you can create your own travel experience — and blog about it. Once established, a travel blog itself can potentially earn you some cash through things like advertisements, email marketing, and sponsorships. Flexing your writing muscle and getting to see the world is a great way to spend your gap year — plus, if you end up loving it, you can also foray this experience into a career in journalism or travel writing.
No matter what kind of gap year you end up going with, it's going to expand your horizons. There are opportunities for every kind of person. Start planning now so you can live your gap year to the fullest.