For many high school graduates, their post-high school life has been carefully charted out with a clear plan for higher education or entry into the working world. These are not the only options for a young adult. Taking additional time to figure out how to spend the next year and beyond is a more viable option for those who are undecided. It doesn’t signify any failure for not following the average path. Here are several choices for consideration.
Guest post by Kevin Gardner
The year between post-high school and college is also known as the gap year. At this time, young adults can explore many local volunteer opportunities based on their interests. An in-town hospital is constantly looking for additional help in various departments based on age and availability. A very popular role to play in brightening up a patient’s day is being a hospital clown. If you have a natural affinity to humour and desire to instil laughter in others to make them happy, then being a volunteer hospital clown is perfect for you.
If you have previously been a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you might consider trying out your leadership skills by leading the next chapter or generation of scouts. Your local Red Cross may also have plenty of opportunities to get involved. If you like construction work, you might explore Habitat for Humanity. If you enjoy being surrounded by books, your local library could be your favourite venue to offer your services. If you rather socialise with people, you might also volunteer for short-term fund-raising campaigns by telephone calling potential donors and practising your social skills.
Immersing yourself in a foreign culture and exercising your independence is a great year to spend your gap year. Plan ahead on what you intend to do, where you will be staying, and how you will support yourself. If you have relatives abroad who can provide you with accommodation, you will be able to save money and focus your budget on sightseeing and travel, for example.
Besides making friends and learning a new language, you have an opportunity to volunteer in the American embassy or consulate and become a student ambassador. If you like the new environment you are in, you can also explore other possible future work or learning opportunities. Create a network of social and professional contacts abroad and keep them available for after your return to your home country.
Sometimes you are not ready to commit to a full-time structured study program or working for a full-time employer. But you want to spread your wings and dabble at freelancing as it gives you a little bit more control of your life. If you have a natural talent and tenacity to pursue your projects and see them to completion, you may want to consider setting up your own little business as a self-employed freelancer. You don’t need a lot of investment to start this as you are mainly offering your services at a negotiable rate.
Opportunities exist to work independently and remotely from anywhere around the world if you are skilled at producing intangible products such as software. Joining a global workforce of virtual coders is a good starting point and contributing to an open-source project hosted at Git Hub will teach you valuable skills on collaboration. Other freelancing gigs include writing, transcribing, graphic and web design. Learning these skills can be acquired online as well as in a brick-and-mortar institution.
Taking a leave between high school graduation and the next course of life is a wonderful time to reflect on life and future goals. It is not a time to be wasted away but to be productive in a more self-sufficient manner. A year might be just a small fraction of your life, but you can spend it wisely contemplating the goals for your next four or more years. You will probably not regret taking a gap year if you try to take charge of your life responsibly.