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5 ways to spend your gap year productively

gap year
Spend your gap year on causes that genuinely interest you. Source: Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP

What does one do during a gap year in 2021? With travelling out of the picture, students must find other avenues to turn their year off into a positive, memorable time.

Higher education consultant Marguerite Dennis believes that students who defer 2021-22 enrollment may be more compelled to take a gap year. “I expect that the gap year experience will be transformed by colleges and universities offering credit-bearing opportunities for students who select this option,” she says. If you’re considering taking the year off, here are some ways you can make it count.

Polish a skill

You will probably pick up several hobbies during your gap year, but this is about taking it to the next level. First, identify a skill or trade you’ve always been interested in. Then, find a local mentor, class, or group where you can improve on it.

Whether it’s carpentry or coding, this skill will better equip you for life after school. It’s also good to add to your resume — it shows future employers that you take personal growth seriously, and that you’re a self-starter.

gap year

Speaking a foreign language can reap long-term rewards for your career. Source: David McNew/AFP

Learn a new language

With language learning resources becoming increasingly available during the pandemic, why not take this time to pick up a new language? This is especially useful if you plan to study abroad next year, or if you envision a career and life abroad. Becoming multilingual will broaden your horizons, allowing you to confidently connect to more people and explore new places.

According to the language learning platform Busuu, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, and Mandarin are the top five languages you should learn for their increasing popularity worldwide. Practising a new language can be fun, too — it opens you up to new movies and music. You will have plenty of time to enjoy them during your gap year.

Volunteer

Becoming involved in your community reaps long-lasting rewards for your personal and professional growth. The best way to do this? Volunteering your time and effort. Whether it’s teaching refugee children, leading a clean-up operation, or taking shifts at the animal shelter, you will be putting your time to good use by serving others.

The benefits of volunteering are well recognised: you will gain a sense of purpose while learning to interact and uplift different people. Many volunteers end up devoting years to a cause they believe in, eventually making it a part of their life and identity.

Volunteering in your community is a fulfilling way to spend time serving others. Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

Start an online business

Online businesses are booming during the pandemic. So if you have an interesting product or service to offer, set it up. Start small by selling to friends and family. You will be able to generate your own income, but more importantly, you will learn practical lessons about sales and business management.

If you plan on pursuing business or entrepreneurship, your gap year would be the perfect time to get a headstart. Besides starting your own business, you could help out in the family business or get an internship at a local company.

Work on your passion

Your priorities will naturally change when you go to university. Therefore one of the best things you can do on your gap year is to focus on what interests you most. Active and expressive? Take a dance class. Love written word? Start penning your poems and stories. You’re young, fresh, and eager — there’s never been a better time for limitless exploration.

Take Emma Watson, for example, who spent her gap year self-educating on gender equality. This created a foundation for her passion for activism while allowing her to flesh out the HeForShe initiative. Igniting your passion in this way could just help you realise what you want to do with your life, and how you want to do it.

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