Introduction to Planning Your Gap Year
The following tips will help you develop a strategy for your gap year
- Talk about it, get others involved.
- Introduce your ideas and plans to your parents, or other family members involved in your decision to take time out.
- Listen to what they have to say.
- Keep an open mind, and keep your communication constructive.
You may have to overcome obstacles or objections. Planet Gap Year wants you to succeed in gaining your parents' support!
Check out our tips on gaining parents' support for a gap year.
Take ownership of your time off plan -
- Show your parents and others the responsibilities you are willing to accept to make your dream of a gap year a reality.
- Write down your goals and responsibilities for taking time off, and share them with parents and friends.
- Don’t forget that your gap year strategy includes completing your college degree.
A major reason for taking a gap is to gain the maturity and confidence that will enable you to succeed in college, your career and life beyond.
- It is very important to establish a sound financial strategy for paying for your gap experience. Programs and experiences vary widely as do costs, and contrary to popular belief, an array of affordable options are available for a gap year experience. You will need to find out how to cover costs and may need to work beforehand to raise your own finances. This also shows your parents that you are serious about taking a gap year and are willing to put your own time and money into making it happen.
Establish a Time Line-
- Keep on track and stay accountable for the implementation of your plan.
- Keep a calendar to record important deadlines and dates.
These may include:
- Knowing the deadlines for submitting all applications,
- Obtaining a passport and relevant visa if traveling outside the US
- Attending the program or organization's orientations or pre-trip briefings
- Making travel and lodging reservations
- Obtaining any necessary vaccinations or prescriptions for medication
- Purchasing necessary health insurance coverage.
Remember, early planning can lower travel costs, give a better selection of program options and internship or volunteer services, and can save time and money.
Research and Screen Experiences and Programs-
Take your time to consider your options and organizations carefully. Use Planet Gap Year's list of gap year options to get started. There are thousands of options for a gap year or time out from studies and our listings are really just the tip of the iceberg. It will take time and effort on your part to find the most suitable organization/program or combination of options.
Use our Screening tips section to get smart on the types of questions to ask organizations providing a wide range of gap year and time off experiences.
Check out our list of recommended Gap Year Books to assist you in planning your gap year or time out experience.
Manage Details and Logistics-
You can do this on your own, but the help of a parent or trusted adult family member will be of great value.
- Stay organized! Keep your documents related to your gap year in one place and remember that electronic copies are best.
- Keep notes of all your conversations with the staff at the company or organization you will be joining you may need them in the future.
- Plan ahead for the unexpected. Check out top tips and essential advice for gap year travelers including passport, visa and health info.
Document and Reflect on Your Experiences-
- Keep a journal of your experiences as you plan and then embark on your journey.
- Keep in touch with friends and family while you are on your gap by sharing emails, pictures and even video clips if you can.
- Remember that many people need time to readjust after their experience. Some organizations even offer a chance to debrief at the end of your time out.
Also consider the following questions to help you come up with a great plan!
- How much time do I have to go before I have to start college?
- What do I want to do? List all the activities and them narrow them down. You could do just one, or combine 2 or 3 activities in your allotted time.
- Would I like to do this in the US or overseas?
- Would I like to go on my own, with another person, or in a group?
- What is the cost of the program? This may involve pricing the cost of 2 or 3 separate activities, depending on how many options you are including.
- What is my real motivation for going?
Remember a successful gap year is one that has been thoroughly thought out and planned.