When you first told your parents, guidance counselor, and others in your life that you’re hoping to take a gap year between high school and higher education, there’s a strong possibility that they didn’t fully understand your rationale. After all, society expects you to go through schooling, graduate high school, and then take the next step to college or perhaps a trade. A gap year goes against that, and yet can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. You can spend your gap year in a variety of meaningful ways and start your career or higher educational goals with a leg up on your peers.
Focus on experiential education.
For those going straight from high school to college, they won’t truly have the same responsibilities as someone who’s not remaining a student consistently. Mom and Dad are still probably contributing to certain expenses, even if you’re paying for a school yourself, and you don’t have to worry about utilities, rent, and other “adult” expenses while living in a dorm. However, a gap year requires that you do take a lot of these grownup steps that current college students won’t. On the flip side, though, it means that you have a lot more freedom to take new steps and experience new things. For example, if you decide you want to travel the country, you have the freedom to go from coast to coast and experience all that the U.S. has to offer. Yes, you’ll need to compare RV insurance companies, coverage options, and even if an RV is the method you want to use. However, you will gain not just the experience of finding and understanding your RV insurance and all that comes with it (such as deductibles, exclusions, and whether you’ll need additional coverage beyond your core insurance policy), but that of traveling nationwide, meeting people from all walks of life and generally becoming a more well-rounded person.
Build your education in less conventional ways.
Just because you’re not stepping directly into higher education in a conventional sense, a gap doesn’t mean you can’t be learning something new. For instance, maybe you know you want to pursue cybersecurity for your career once your gap year has ended. In that case, you might look into getting your NCSA certification now, using this time to focus your attention there rather than doing so in between your first job out of school, classwork, or other more typical responsibilities. Of course, other courses with or without a certificate can teach you incredible skills as well. Consider what you might want to learn during this period; then, research ways you may be able to learn it. In many cases, you may even be able to do so at little to no cost, which is certainly a benefit when compared to the cost of peers who’ve entered college directly.
Prepare for the real world.
Driving your motorhome across the country, dealing with insurance companies, and learning new skills can seem like a full-time role on its own. However, you’re also being a full-time adult, whether you’re traveling the U.S. or focusing on a particular new skill. Your gap here can act as the required study guide for life, not just a prerequisite or elective course. If you decide to go into the field of customer service, you’ll be well prepared by having met people from various cultures and backgrounds. Should you decide that a camper may someday become your primary residence, you’ll already know how to deal with your insurance company and what type of coverage you need for your RV.
In short, a gap year can be a time to learn about yourself, set yourself up for success in the long term, and generally figure out what being an adult will mean to you. Whether you’re a part-time RVer traveling between online courses or you’re going all-in on your travel excursions before pursuing college or trade later, you’ll find that a gap year gives you unique insights into life. After seeing your RV lifestyle, the lessons you’ve learned, and the other benefits you’ve experienced over your gap year, no one will continue to question why you made this choice or why it was the right one for you.
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