Categories: College Life

10 Best Ideas For What To Do During A Gap Year Before College

Taking a gap year before heading to school is a great idea, but deciding what to do during your gap year before college is a whole other story. Your year should help you expand, learn new things, explore new possibilities, and even cross things off your list. Some take it as an opportunity to become more mature, and others to become more carefree. Ultimately, what to do during a gap year before college is all up to you, but these possibilities will help you to narrow down the endless options and consider what it is you truly want to get out of this time.

1. Move Someplace You’ve Always Wanted To Live

New York City, the mountains of Colorado, the hipster-dom of Portland, Oregon, the beaches of anywhere south, the hills of California, you name it. There are so many places people dream of moving to, and your gap year is the perfect chance to do just that. Whether you have school lined up next year or not, moving someplace new will help you feel like college is way less scary, and it will give you some much-needed perspective.

Being in high school and living with your parents, you might start to think that you have everything all figured out, but you don’t. No one ever does, honestly, but that’s not the point. Going somewhere new, on your own, out of your parent’s house, will help teach you what it means to be an adult in a way that college never could, and is a valuable option for what to do during a gap year before college. Plus, you might find out where you want to apply to jobs after you graduate.

2. Save Money

While you may be itching to get out of your parent’s house, don’t knock the opportunity to save money while living with the fam if you have it. Life can get super expensive, so it’s better to have some money set aside. If you’re saving to pay for school, there is no better opportunity than the present to really put your nose to the grindstone. It could save you a lot of stress later on.

If you won’t be paying out of your own pocket for school, saving up will still help you in the long run. You will have spending money in college, or money to help you out after college, or money to put towards your student loans after graduation. Yes, you’ll be stuck with your parents a little longer, but it’s actually quite worth it.

3. Do Unpaid Internships

If money isn’t a concern, or if you have time to devote to your future in more than one way, unpaid internships should be kept in consideration for what to during a gap year before college. Some people already know what they want to do, and in this case, getting as much experience as possible to put on your resumé will help you get the paid or elite internships, part-time jobs, and full-time jobs that you dream of. You may think that majoring in the field you want to go into is enough, but to stand out from the giant stack of resumés potential employees have to go through, you’ll need to have that something extra.

For what to do during a gap year before college, it’s best to choose something that will help you in college, even if you don’t know what you want to do yet. Weeding out possibilities is a great way to start; you can eliminate the paths you don’t like, find new paths that you want to pursue, and have the time and focus in college to really throw yourself into your goals. Don’t waste your freshman year exploring your options when you can do that during your gap year instead!

4. Go On A Road Trip

This option for what to do during your gap year before college might not actually last all year, but it certainly could if you plan it right. The United States is a gigantic place, and chances are you haven’t even seen twenty percent of it with your own eyes. Pack up by yourself or with someone you care about and set out to behold the beauty of this country, to seek understanding, and to gain perspective. There is so much out there, so no need to stay within the same four walls.

5. Go WWOOFing

WWOOFing is a verb that comes from an acronym: working on organic farms, worldwide (I’m not sure why the worldwide W is at the beginning). This awesome organization allows you to farm all over the world in exchange for free housing and free food, which if you’re wondering what to do during a gap year before college, is a pretty great way to see the world. You need to pay a fee to the WWOOF organization of your specific host country, which then gives you a membership card and grants you access to the postings and information of farmers all throughout that country. You can WWOOF in the U.S. and around the world!

Yes, you are signing up to live with people you don’t know and that can be scary. However, you can take precautions by reading postings carefully, communicating thoroughly with potential hosts, and traveling with a friend. WWOOF organization does check out hosts before certifying them, but the situation also operates a whole lot on mutual trust. Be smart about it.

For reference, I have personally been WWOOFing, and I was very safe.

6. Do A Work Away Stay

Another option for what to do during a gap year before college, and for traveling and living abroad, is to do a Work Away stay. Work Away is similar to WWOOFing, except the opportunities aren’t just on farms. Instead, you could work in a bed and breakfast, or help someone at their store. Similarly to WWOOF, you have an exchange arrangement where you put in a certain amount of work per day to receive food and housing from your hosts.

The same precautions apply: thoroughly figure out what the expectations are, what a normal day looks like, a little bit about the hosts, and consider traveling with a friend.

7. Become An Au Pair

If childcare is more your thing, you can work and travel abroad while nannying! An Au Pair is a helper from a foreign country who works for and lives with a host family. The situation may change depending on the family you sign up to be a part of, so definitely figure out how much work you’ll be putting in and whether or not you’ll get any vacations.

See Also

You shouldn’t be paying for housing or food in an au pair situation, so the only expenses you may have are meals out, vacations, and your plane ticket.

8. Get A Certification You’ve Always Wanted To

If you’re thinking of going into the medical field and you aren’t already a lifeguard, CPR certified, et cetera, then this is a great opportunity to get those certifications, which could lead to better opportunities the summer after freshman year. Maybe you always wanted to get certified as a yoga instructor, or be TOSEL certified; these certifications cost money, but if you work a part-time job and put in the work, you can definitely get it done. Whatever it is you’ve always wanted to be certified in, there is no time like the present. 

9. Pick Up And Master A New Hobby

Have you always wanted to play the guitar? Become a master painter? Know how to bake everything you could possibly bake? Build a bookshelf? Don’t wait until you’ve retired because picking up a new hobby is a great option for what to do during a gap year before college. Whatever your dream hobby is, devote yourself to it over the next year and you will certainly have at least the foundation of a great new skill.

You can work a part-time job in the meantime, which could have to do with your hobby if you want, and if you’re passionate enough about it, it could even turn into a career down the line. It’s not crazy to create opportunities for yourself!

10. Think About What You Want Out Of Your College Experience

Throughout your year, no matter what you do or where you go, the most important thing is to consider what you want out of your college experience. If you just want to party, then college isn’t the place to be. Yes, you should have fun and meet new friends and socialize in college, but it’s also a very expensive education that could change the course of your life. Don’t waste it on not knowing what you want to do.

Thinking about which school clubs might be fun, which languages you might want to know, what your dream career looks like, and how you can make your dreams a reality are super important. Finding the right group of friends is, too. You have the time to think ahead now, so try to do just that, even if you don’t figure it all out. Looking back, you’ll be thankful for your planning, no matter how much you did!

Do you now know what to do during a gap year before college? Let us know your spectacular plans for your gap years in the comments below!

Feature Image Source: via Pexels @samson-katt,
Hanna Bredvik

Committed to diversity, inclusion, beauty, and making life just a little bit easier.

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