It’s not uncommon these days to hear about kids taking a year off before going to college. Just recently it was all over the news that Malia Obama was taking a gap year before heading off to Harvard in Fall of 2017.

While some may scoff at the idea of taking a year off from college, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Studies have shown that students who take gap years perform better and have a higher job satisfaction in the careers they pursue.

Last week, I shared six reasons you should take a year off from college. Well today, I want to follow up with five constructive things to do during a gap year.

5 Things You Can Do During Gap Year

You can get a Job

College is expensive and regardless of whether you have scholarships or college savings, it never hurts to have a little extra. There will be parties, books, and even be an occasional emergency where you’ll appreciate having an extra bit of funds.

If you lack financial discipline and you want to learn how to manage money, what better way to learn than earning your own way. You can make a lot of money in a year if you don’t have any other expenses. Just make sure you handle your funds wisely.

Volunteer Work

So maybe some of you have worked throughout high school and you just don’t want to work anymore. Well, you can offer your time to someone in need. There are many organizations that would love to have you help them.

You could volunteer with Americorps and earn money towards school expenses. There are also volunteer opportunities abroad that you can get into. This experience will give you more than something to do. It will enrich your life experiences and look good on scholarship applications.

Internship in a Possible Field of Study

This is your chance to see if you really want to become that budding news reporter you’ve always dreamed of becoming. For instance, you can check with your local television station to see if there are any unpaid internship opportunities.

Regardless of whether you’re fetching coffee or filing papers, it will give you the opportunity to see what the work culture is like in a possible career field. Not only that, but you might even be able to chat it up with seasoned veterans of the industry and gain some valuable insight.

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Travel AND Work — be an Au Pair

An au pair is a young foreigner that helps with household and childcare responsibilities in exchange for room in board. Let’s say you want to work and travel during your gap year. Check out au pair programs that pair you with families in a different country.

You get room and board and someone else gets help with things they need around the home. This will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and earn something in return. It’s an incredible opportunity if you’re good with kids or have an interest in working with them in the future.

Learn a New Skill or Take up a Trade

I remember in college my good friend always said she wished she’d gotten her barber’s license before coming to college. She was actually good at cutting hair too. When fellow college students didn’t have the means to go get haircut, she was the one they came to.

Think of how lucrative this opportunity would have been if she had a license to provide her services for a fee! If you’re taking time off from school, you may want to consider taking up a trade where you can earn a certification during that time frame.

Some potential trades are barbering, cosmetology, emergency technician, certified nurse assistant, and more. Matter of fact, a lot of local community colleges allow for dual enrollment during high school.

This means, you can earn a college credits for classes you take in high school. A family member did this before heading to university and graduated high school as a certified nurse’s assistant. Now she works in a nursing home part-time while she attends school.

In Conclusion

Many students don’t give much thought to taking a break between high school and college. I know I didn’t. But hindsight can surely make you wish you’d done things a little differently.

Don’t miss out on a valuable opportunity to travel the world, volunteer, work, or earn valuable skills just because you didn’t do your research. Explore your options now while you have an opportunity and make a decision that could have a lasting impression on your future.

©2016