Recently, when Malia Obama, President Barack and Michelle Obama’s oldest daughter, announced she was taking a gap year, there was a lot of debate over the benefits of taking a year off before starting college. While many people think a gap year can take away students desire for higher education, a year off before college may not be such a bad idea.
In fact, according to the American Gap Association, 88% of students who have taken gap years report that the gap year significantly added to their employability. And, consideringÂ only 11% of employers strongly agree that college graduates “have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace,” taking a break from a traditional education environment to explore alternatives could make a student more marketable in the real world. Below, weâ€™ve identified threeÂ productive and purposeful ways to spend a gap year.
Volunteer for an organization – Whether it’s helping people who are less fortunate, getting involved in a presidential campaign, or raising awareness about social injustice within the community, volunteering for an organization can help young people gain transferable skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communicationâ€”skills and values that are attractive to any employer.
Enroll in a language study abroad program – Most experts will agree, global exposure is not “just nice to have, it’s a must-have.” Beyond learning a second language, experiencing life in another country can give students an opportunity to build independence and gain insight into different cultures.
Start a business – Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for teenagers to launch and maintain a successful business. Just think of Mikaila Ulmer, the 11-year-old CEO of Bee Sweet Lemonade, who secured a $60,000 deal on Shark Tank, and recently snagged a four-state deal with Whole Foods. Zandra Cunningham is another young trailblazer and CEO of Zandra Beauty, and all-natural skincare product line of artisan soap, lotion, shea butter, soufflÃ©, lip balm, sugar scrubs, and facial bars. The Small Business Administration,Â has several resources targeted toward millennial entrepreneurs.