Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Exploring "Gap" Year Alternatives After Graduation

If you are graduating from college this year, you might be considering taking a break before going to grad school or starting your career. If you are, think about doing something meaningful as you explore "gap year" alternatives.

According to Wikipedia, the term, "gap year" refers to a "prolonged period (often, but not always, a year) between two life stages. This "gap year" is also known as a "year out", "year off", "deferred year", "bridging year", "overseas experience", "time off" and "time out". Taking this time off is actually very popular in Europe and Australia where young adults are encouraged to take a break after high school and before or after college. Graduates are urged to take on meaningful experiences during this time for personal exploration before moving to the next life stage of career or college.

Your graduation from college this year could offer you the same opportunity. You might be thinking about taking the time off, especially if you are not sure what your next career or higher education step should be.

The question to ponder is whether or not taking the "gap year" off a good thing for you?

The answer of course is - it depends. College graduates should weigh the pros and cons of taking this time off and the long term ramifications on future career choices.

Here are some pros for exploring "Gap Year" alternatives:

1. This break could give graduates the time needed to explore career options.
2. Students may be tired of school and might get diminishing returns from paying for classes and not doing well.
3. Graduates might be able to save some money to return to school, get an apartment or some needed transportation.
4. Traveling can help students explore geographical options and other cultures

Here are some of the cons of taking advantage of "Gap Year" alternatives:

1. Students may never want to return to college or further their education. This is quite possibly the most common reason for hesitating.
2. Once away from school, graduates lose touch with college professors and others who could encourage further education or guide career direction.

Some US colleges now understand the increasing urge that high school graduates have for the "gap year" and are now getting on board with innovative programs to meet the needs of these college students.

A recent article in the US News outlines "gap year" plans from Princeton University in New Jersey. Princeton University is planning to send 10 percent of their 2009 incoming freshman overseas for a year to work in the social services. These new college students will actually do all this cross cultural exploration before they even set foot on the Princeton campus for their freshman year.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

By: Marcia Robinson and courtesy of BullsEyeResumes College Blog ( Robinson coaches, trains, and writes on career, workplace, and education issues for students and career professionals.

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