5 Ways to Spend a Gap Year After High School

If the timeline to the day you say goodbye forever to high school seems to be approaching at an alarming speed and you're still not sure what your plan is for after graduation, don't worry.

First of all, you're not alone! Second, there's an option that not a lot of people talk about that, one that doesn't involve heading straight into college or a career right after high school: Taking a gap year.

While they may not be as popular in the United States as in other countries (it's actually super common to take one in places like the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia), gap years can be extremely beneficial—so long as you use the time wisely, that is. With that said, here are some ways to spend a gap year after high school that could actually help set you up for success in the long run:

1. Travel

Top of the list for ways to spend a gap year is to use it to travel, especially internationally (so long as it's safe to do so—thanks, COVID). Travel is exceptionally beneficial for so many reasons, from personal growth to how it looks on a resume, and even more so when you do it while you're young. In fact, we have a whole article about it! Just click HERE to read more about the reasons why you should travel while you're young.

Shutterstock: Young girl traveler walking with carrying hold suitcase in the airport. Tourist Concept.

(via Shutterstock)


2. Volunteer

Thanks to benefits that range from personal development to doing some good in your community, volunteering is one of the best ways to spend a gap year. If you need a little extra motivation, it's also something that looks amazing on a resume or college application. Look for opportunities in your local community, as there's a good chance a lot of the charities, animal shelters, homeless shelters and other spots are desperately needing volunteers to help out however they can.


3. Train for a New Skill

Looking for a different way to boost that resume before entering the dreaded "real world?" Participating in a training program is one great way! This is a good in-between zone between school and work, as you're still learning something but it's much more guided towards growing a skillset that could actually help you in a new job or career path after completion.

Shutterstock: Two Businesswomen Working On Computer In Office

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4. Explore Your Passions

High school is a unique time that keeps you busy practically all the time, leaving little time in between to discover what you might really want to do with your life. If nothing else, a gap year is a great time to figure out what you might want to do or study once you decide to dive back into the academic or working world.


5. Start a Business

You don't have to be the next Steve Jobs, but plenty of people have started businesses using little more than some crafting supplies and a bit of determination. Maybe you love making jewelry in your spare time or have a thing for crystals and would like to start selling them, or want to start a pet sitting business in your local community. If you do your research and find a way to do it while following all the required guidelines, a gap year is a great time to start and grow a business! Even if you don't end up sticking with it after the year is over, it's something you can mention on those college and job applications that sound amazing to your future employer or university.

Shutterstock: Woman using pliers to adjust malachite gemstones

(via Shutterstock)


Even if a gap year doesn't sound like necessarily the right choice for you, it's still okay to feel a little unsure about your post-graduation future. We're here to help with that too, and you can read about why it's okay to not know what you want to do after high school by clicking HERE.