Graduating soon? Unsure of what’s next? Thinking about a gap year? For many students, these thoughts evoke a variety of emotions. While some see it as exciting ways to gain new experiences and take time off from school, others stress over how to make the most out of their time off. Regardless of your personal take on the prospect of taking a year off before entering graduate school or the workplace, there are of plenty of options that make for a gap year with purpose.
Fulbright US Student Program
The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 as an international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government. This program enables students to pursue individually designed study/research projects or complete English teaching assistantship programs abroad. Although it is a highly competitive program, Fulbright is a great option for students seeking to enhance their educational experiences abroad. This program is also available to masters and doctoral students, as well as professionals with up to five years of experience in their field.
Teach for America
Teach for America is a student leadership development program that places corps members in underprivileged schools across the country, with a main goal of creating educational systemic change. Recent graduates are able to preference US regions in which they would like to teach, and are then placed in classrooms with students of all ages to instruct varying subject areas. Teach for America has a two year commitment; however, many program alumni choose to continue teaching afterwards.
Looking to work in a school environment, but hesitant about a teaching commitment? City Year places young people in underprivileged schools across the country in order to reduce the dropout crisis in urban schools. City Year corps members provide tutoring services while working to support teachers and administration in schools during a yearlong commitment period.
Not only is a gap year the perfect time to gain career experience, it also enables recent graduates to learn more about themselves. Regardless of your degree, there are a wide variety of service and teaching opportunities available that are perfect ways to help you discover future career paths. So, stop stressing about graduation and start exploring ways you will make the most out of your gap year.
Still wondering about what other options are available to you? Penn State Career Services has resources to help you navigate potential gap year opportunities.