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Gap Year Ideas

By: Xiaofan Gao
Sep 11, 2020 • 7 min read

Gap Year Ideas

Ever since COVID forced universities and colleges to move to online and hybrid classes, some students have been considering taking a gap year. Their reasons vary, from not wanting to pay a full semester’s worth of tuition for virtual learning to waiting till things get better, so they can have the authentic college experience. Whatever the reason might be, we’ll probably be seeing a sharp increase in the number of students who take a gap year. But after everything’s taken care of and former students are ready to start their college-free year, they realize they don’t know where to start. If you’re one of those people, then you’re in the right place! Today, we’ll be covering some excellent gap year ideas to ensure that you can take full advantage of these 12 months. 

gap year ideas

Get an Internship 

No school doesn’t mean no work! You can always get an internship or two, depending on how many hours each is and how many hours you want to work. Apply to ones that fit either your areas of study and/or interests. Look online for internships geared explicitly towards students taking a gap year to increase your chances of getting in. Some programs help you get connected with gap year internships, like The Intern Group. When you receive an offer, you can work without having to worry about homework, exams, and extracurriculars, so you’re more likely to perform well. Who knows? Maybe the internship during your gap year will lead to a full-time opportunity after you graduate. 

Volunteer

Interning is excellent, but if you’re looking for a more flexible workflow, try volunteering. That’s not to say that volunteering will be a breeze in the park. You could be physically tired from maintaining the local animal shelter, but since you won’t be paid, there won’t be the additional pressure of fulfilling certain expectations. There’ll also be fewer workplace politics since there are no conflicts of interest; in fact, it’d be quite the opposite. As a volunteer, you’ll meet and make friends with like-minded individuals who also want to help out. Teamwork will be easier since everyone has a common goal in mind and the drive to accomplish it.

Get Creative

What if there aren’t any volunteering or nonprofit opportunities in your town? You can still ask around, as even businesses sometimes need a volunteer or two to lend them a helping hand. If there really is nothing, go online and look for places in nearby towns. If a place is too far away, don’t go for it, unless you feel like your commute won’t tire you out. Look for ways to volunteer virtually. Many nonprofits have their contact info or an interest form on their webpages. Take the initiative by reaching out and asking if there’s anything you can do. Chances are they’ll say yes. 

gap year ideas

Learning a New Language

Typically, we’d suggest traveling to another country and learning how to speak its national language and observe its cultural practices. Due to COVID, this is out of the question. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn a new language. I highly encourage learning about the culture behind that language too. For instance, if you decide on Mandarin, search up traditional Chinese recipes that you can make for dinner, order a mahjong set to play with family and friends, and read about a Chinese dynasty every day. Install WeChat, an app commonly used by the Chinese community, and get in contact with students in China. Practicing with native speakers is a great way to improve your proficiency. If you really, really want to tour the country, check out some virtual traveling resources. This page lets you briefly “walk” along the Great Wall of China with more touring options down below. 

Passion Project 

Have you ever wanted to do a project that you didn’t have enough time for? Well, now you can! If you don’t have anything that you’ve wanted to work on, here are some cool ideas.

Arts & crafts

  • Knit a sweatshirt or blanket. You’ll be able to appreciate your work when the weather gets cold, or you can gift it to a dear friend. 
  • Draw or paint a complex piece. When I mean complex, I’m talking about experimenting with colors, depth, emotion, and other details.
  • Build a birdhouse if you have birds in your backyard. For bonus points, your birdhouse should have a creative structure. 
  • Make a vase out of pottery. You can use it to store items or just as a decoration piece.
  • Start a blog. Ask family and friends to follow, and promote it on your social media channels. If you manage to gain a lot of followers, you could earn ad revenue from this project.

Work on a book

  • Work on a book. I’m 100% sure that 90% of people would love to write a book about their lives but never have the time (or energy) to. On second thought, it doesn’t even have to be about you. Ever wanted to write a book about lemon-fearing conqueror robots? Go ahead!
  • Write poems. Poetry requires thinking and creativity, so it’ll stimulate your brain for sure. There’s also magazines and standalone zines looking for poetry submissions, so if you’re feeling up to it, enter them. If you get in, then that’s another detail you can add to your resume.

gap year ideas

Visual

  • Start a Youtube channel. Granted, it’ll probably flop, but if you’re not in it for the fame or fortune, it can be a fun way of spending your time.
  • Take photographs. Many professional photographers have been rushing to empty cities to capture the aesthetic, but you don’t have to go to the extremes. If you want, step outside for half an hour every day to take photographs of your surroundings. At the end of the year, make a scrapbook of your best photos.

Technical

  • Create your own website. I highly recommend doing this at some point during your gap year, because employers do look at those when looking over your job profile. 
  • Create a website for a business. If any businesses in your area need a website, and you know how to make one, offer up your services. 
  • Build a mobile app. It could be about anything, but if you want to try selling it to the App Store, pay attention to the trends, and build one whose subject aligns with those of the hottest apps. If I’d hazard a guess, I’d say children entertainment apps have been pretty popular because parents will be using those apps to distract the children they’re stuck at home with. 
  • Fix an old or broken computer. Yeah, everyone has that one banged up computer sitting in the garage. See if you can repair it so that if it’s functional, you can use or sell it. If it’s not, then get rid of it, so you can have extra space.

gap year ideas

Just the beginning

Those are just some ideas of what you could do during your gap year if you so choose to take one. Never fear! There’s plenty of other things you can do. If you have any more gap year ideas, let us know on our social media pages. 

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