4 steps to planning your best gap year

By: Felix Schliemann

For many, planning a gap year can be very daunting; it requires organization and discipline. To get the most out of your year, take these four steps to best utilize the time you have to explore the world and yourself.

Brainstorm, in a real way

Begin by brainstorming. Students should think about what they want out of their gap year and how they can achieve it.

For example, if a student wants to commit his gap year to service, he should start thinking about what type of charities and non-profits he would like to help. Students should also consider places they wish to see if they are looking to explore a different parts of the world.

PRO-TIP: Look into online resources that help students discover different kinds of programs and locations.Year Out Group allows you to search by destination, program, and organization to learn about opportunities and places you might have never considered.

Organize, Organize, Organize.

The second step is one that many students are not great at and understandably so. Organizing things like applications, flights, and itineraries can be difficult and is something most students coming out of high school are not practiced at.

For this reason it is extremely important to get ahead of the pack, decide early on what you want to do in your gap year in order to plans things ahead of time. The last thing you want is to leave the organization of your gap year to the last minute and have great opportunities pass you by.

PRO-TIP: Many service programs give students detailed timelines and FAQs on their sites to better manage the gap year process. City Year, an arm of Americorp which places students in underserved communities across America for a year of service, and Public Allies, which fosters diversity in civic participation through a program of full-time non-profit work and leadership training, both provide these tools online.

Live the Gap Year to the Fullest

This is by far the easiest part of a gap year, enjoying yourself. A gap year is a unique time where students can experience the real world without the pressure and stress of college or post-grad life. You’ll likely learn many new things about yourself so be open-minded, embrace new experiences, and give it your all.

PRO-TIP: Keep a journal. You’ll want to remember everything you experienced, as you may not get another year to spend exploring for a while. If you’re looking for a diary for the 21st century, try Moleskine’s Evernote line of notebooks. You can take a photo of any page to immediately digitize your journals and share your thoughts online.

Keep College in View

While on the gap year, this topic can allude the minds of many but it is a reality that in the coming year you will most likely be attending college.

For the students who haven’t yet applied, this mean staying on top of due dates and deadlines and completing all the steps of the application process without their teachers reminding them.

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