If you remember anything about growing up, you probably remember that nearly everyone has always encouraged you to go to college... and not stop going until you get the perfect job.
It's no secret that to get a higher-paying, professional full-time career, you usually need a degree higher than a bachelor's degree. However, that's not always the case. There are plenty of different paths to take after graduating college that do not mean you're steering away from a successful future.
Many people believe that the best idea is to go to graduate school right after college, but in reality, very few people choose to do so. There is no timeline for your future and dreams. If you're feeling lost and are interested in taking a gap year before grad school, keep reading. We're going to talk about the benefits this decision can have and give you ways to prepare for going to grad school after a gap year.
Benefits of Taking a Gap Year Before Grad School
After many years of hard work in your undergrad studies, it can be overwhelming to already start thinking about your graduate program.
Maybe you have a degree where there are endless career options, and you aren't quite sure what you want to do yet. Or maybe you do know exactly what you want to do, but you just need a break and want to recharge before you start your new journey.
Regardless of your reasoning, there are plenty of ways that you can build personal and professional development before going back to grad school. We're going to break down some of the biggest benefits.
1. Build Your Resume
If you aren't looking to get a job just yet, there are other ways to get experience and build up your resume and get prepared for those hard-hitting interview questions.
You can find an internship for a future career you're interested in to get hands-on experience, or you can find a volunteer opportunity that you'd enjoy. One way to build your resume through volunteer experience is by joining a gap year program.
Even if you aren't getting paid, employers love to see that you're involved and engaged in your field of work. Any type of field experience shows future employers that you're passionate about your future and are always willing to learn.
2. Time for Personal Growth and Reflection
While your undergrad years of college can be some of the best years of your life, they can also be stressful. You're often overwhelmed with responsibilities, from schoolwork to social obligations and everything in between. When there is so much going on, there's little time left to practice self-care and reflect on yourself.
Taking a gap year can help you do some self-reflection and learn more about yourself than you ever realized. You might even gain a little extra self-confidence along the way.
Post-college-grad life can be challenging for many people, but what matters most is how you spend this unique time in your life. Using this time mindfully can help you find more clarity about what you want in life and what the next step is for you.
3. Discover New Interests
Along with building your personal development by doing self-reflection and self-care, you also might take this time to discover new interests.
Whether you decide to take your gap year to travel the world or even just visit a new town or city, you might discover some new interests you never even knew you had.
New interests and passions can also help you pave the way for your future and decide what you might want in your professional career.
How to Prepare for Grad School During Your Gap Year
A gap year before grad school can be a very unique time in your life, and it's unlikely you'll have a phase in life exactly like this again. You have so much freedom to discover where you want your life to go.
While this can feel liberating, we know that it can also be overwhelming. There are some things you can do to prepare for grad school during this time so you don't feel as lost.
1. Start Your Research
First and foremost, you'll want to start researching some schools and the programs that they offer. Do some research on what kind of resources the school has and the requirements for you to apply.
If you're unsure of what you want to do yet, that's okay. But getting an idea of what certain schools offer might give you some guidance in what you might be interested in studying.
2. Maintain Your Connections
Another important step is to have all of your documents and references in order. Applying for graduate school often requires transcripts from college and letters of recommendation from professors and/or previous employers.
It's important to make sure you don't lose all of your connections after as a college graduate. They certainly will be important in this next chapter of your life.
3. Consider Your Goals
As a professional and as a human, we all have goals that we someday want to achieve. These goals change over time and can often be simple or complex.
It's important during this time of self-reflection to think about your personal and professional goals. What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? How can your next degree help you accomplish that? The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource to help you find what types of careers are available with your graduate degree.
Finding Your Path
The benefits of taking a gap year before grad school are endless. Taking a breath before moving to your next journey can help you re-center and focus on your goals.
Maybe you're thinking of applying for an entry-level job to get your foot in the door of a company and get some work experience. Or maybe you have no idea what's next for you, and that's okay, too.
Either way, you'll likely learn more about yourself than you ever thought you could. And you might have some life-changing experiences you may not have had otherwise.
If you think you might be interested in our gap year programs, get in touch with one of our Admissions Directors. They talk to prospective gap year students all the time! We hope to hear from you soon, and we promise you won't regret it.
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