Should You Take a Gap Year Before Online College?

So you’re considering enrolling in an online college, but planning to take a gap year first? Good idea! A gap year can actually be extremely beneficial, especially for online students.

Let’s face it, the last years of high school didn’t turn out quite the way you imagined. Thanks to the global pandemic, many of you have been forced to complete your high school education in online courses. So even if you plan to continue your studies online at university, going offline for a year could pay dividends in the long run.

In fact, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, more students than ever have used the year after high school graduation to step back, regroup, and pursue a few experiences outside of school. the (virtual) class.

A gap year also gives you a bit more time to shop around for a great online college experience. Whatever you do during your gap year, make sure some of your time is spent researching schools online. Start by taking a look at Best Online Colleges in 2022.

Or read on to find out how to make the most of your gap year.

What is a gap year?

The sabbatical year is a school break between high school and post-secondary. Students graduating from high school often use this time to pursue interesting opportunities or new experiences before embarking on a college education. Gap year experiences may include, but are not limited to:

  • Work
  • Travel
  • Specialized research
  • Internships
  • Advanced studies in mathematics, science or the arts
  • Volunteering
  • To learn a new language

You can design an independent gap year experience yourself or you can choose to participate in a more structured experience through a gap year organization.

You have a lot of freedom to use this time as you see fit. But you also need to understand that “gap year” isn’t just a clever way of saying vacation. You can visit exotic beaches if you wish. You can check off some interesting experiences on your to-do list. But technically, it’s not a vacation. To call it a gap year:

  • You need to have a real plan for how to spend your time away from school constructively, and;
  • You should plan to return to school after this one-year hiatus.

Worried about losing your academic motivation during your gap year? Fear nothing. The Gap Year Association reports that 90% of students who take a gap year actually enroll in college within the year.

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Why take a gap year?

The best reason to take a gap year is to take a step back before taking the next step in your education. You have spent your whole life in school. Taking a gap year can be a great way to clear your head and better understand your own goals. Research from the Gap Year Association reveals that students entering college after a gap year consistently demonstrate greater maturity, growth and preparation for college than those who dive into college just months after graduating from high school.

The Sabbatical Year Association students surveyed who took advantage of the gap year. The top three benefits of the gap year, according to the students surveyed, were that it:

  • gave me a better idea of ​​who I am as a person and what is important to me;
  • allowed me to better understand other countries, peoples, cultures and ways of life; and
  • provided me with additional skills and knowledge that contributed to my career or academic specialization.

These responses demonstrate the enormous value of gaining experiences outside of a formal educational setting. Once you return to continue your education, you will be a slightly wiser, more worldly version of yourself.

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Why take a tear before going to online college?

The best reason to take a gap year before going to online college is that it can provide you with some of the interpersonal experiences that you may not have as an online student. Although online education offers a number of clear advantages including accessibility, affordability and flexibility, there is no way to replace the dynamic interaction you get in a classroom. direct. There is also no way to replicate the social experience of campus life.

This makes the gap year a great option for students who will earn a degree completely online. Whether you choose to travel and engage with the locals; participate in a volunteer mission where you experience community life; or work as a counselor in a youth athletics program, your gap year can be a great way to meet new people, get a variety of social experiences, and even have a little fun.

Having a few of these experiences within a year of graduating from high school can help offset some of the isolation you might feel as an online student.

Have you been waitlisted for an online college? We share some concrete steps to take for you at present.

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What are the best organized gap year programs?

The Gap Year Association is an organization focused on promoting and encouraging the constructive use of the gap year. The 501(c)3 nonprofit is recognized by the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the organization that sets standards and grants accreditation for formal gap year programs.

According to Gap Year Association, we have seen their profound benefits for students from all walks of life and believe that an intentional gap year can be part of the well-being of us, our nation, our neighbors and our fellow citizens of the world.

If you’re looking for a structured gap year program, the Gap Year Association could be a great place to start. The association identifies gap programs that have been assessed for their quality and legitimacy. This includes opportunities for internships, volunteering, travel, and a host of other life experiences. All programs listed in this index have been verified by the Gap Year Association. Notable accredited programs include:

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Can I use the gap year to advance my career?

One of the best ways to use your gap year is to gain real-world experience in an industry you are actively considering for a career. For example, if you plan to major in political science, try to find a job with a local campaign. Thinking of a career in public service? Go to City Hall and ask if there is an office where you can apply to work. Interested in a career in hospitality? Hotels and cruise ships are always hiring support staff.

Don’t forget that you are a beginner right now. But an entry-level job in a field of your choice is an amazing way to see what life is like on the inside. And while you’re inside, be sure to network. Make contacts, ask questions, learn everything you can about a career in the field. This knowledge will give you a huge advantage as you prepare to declare your college degree later.

Not only that, but there are actually schools and degree programs that grant college credit for work experience.

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How can a gap year help my mental health?

If you’re about to graduate from high school and feel like you’ve only seen the world through a screen, your gap year could be a great way to get out and see the world. reality. Go for a walk across the country. Participate in a program organized abroad. Choose a destination based on your career, family background, or personal interests.

If money is an issue, choose destinations where you have friends or family. No matter where you go, as long as you keep your eyes, mind, and heart open, you will learn and grow. You will experience new things. You will taste new things. You will see things that will change your perspective.

These are all experiences you can take with you to an online college. These experiences will also better prepare you for some of the distinct responsibilities that come with online education. Without the traditional supervision that occurs in a live classroom, it’s up to you to manage your own time, find your own motivation, and organize your own responsibilities. Students who experience a gap year are often better prepared for the realities of personal independence that come with online learning.

Better preparation, organization and discipline can help you anticipate some of the unique pressures of online education. However, if you find yourself struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety or depression, take advantage of the mental health support resources available through your online program. As is the case for students living on campus, it is extremely important that you don’t neglect your mental health when studying online.

Once you’re ready to start college, get ready by watching these 10 tips for beginners in online education.

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