College Grads: Consider a “Gap Year”


When I graduated from college there was no question I had to get a job–or move home, which wasn’t going to happen after four years of “freedom.”  So, I moved to Indianapolis with high hopes, but no job.  A couple of nerve-wracking months later I landed a job and haven’t had a major work lapse in the past 40 years.

Recently, I’ve been encouraging new graduates and people “between jobs” to consider taking some significant time off to see the world, work on the book they’ve always wanted to write, volunteer or master yoga.  Jilly Stephens, executive director of City Harvest, a wonderful nonprofit that distributes food to community organizations in New York, expresses the same point of view in today’s Corner Office column in The New York Times.

Jilly encourages new college graduates to take a gap year, stating:  “It’s invaluable to get out there and experience the world, because you’ve got a lifetime of work ahead of you.  I just think to draw on that year of spending time outside of your immediate world is a good thing to do.”

Supporting the “gap year” isn’t always easy, but this is the time of your life when it takes a lot less money for such an adventure.  Part-time jobs are easy to find, and living expenses are minimal.  Do it before you spend 40 years building 5-star expectations. 


6 thoughts on “College Grads: Consider a “Gap Year”

  1. Great advice, Ron. I’m going to be teaching english in China starting in August. As you mentioned, a year abroad is a great opportunity for recent college grads. Take advantage of it while you still have the chance!

  2. As much as I would love to take this advice and take a year off after college, I just can not afford it.I must disagree with this line, ” but this is the time of your life when it takes a lot less money.” I am 22 years old and I currently have a part-time job that I have held for 3 years and I still can not afford to live so called “comfortably.” I know myself as well as many other college graduates must work, and can not afford to stop working, we must save for that dreadful day when our students loans must begin to be paid. I do agree with the fact that sometimes people must take a break from their daily routines and explore something new, but to travel and see the world is a little pricey, and on a bologna budget, the caviar taste must wait.

  3. Good point, Ashley. I recall the burden of student loans and other post-graduation expenses. I only enjoyed a partial “gap year” before getting a job that would support me until I landed the job I really wanted.

  4. This is great advice. while being in school the only thing you can think about is where your going to work and starting you life as a big kid. but your so right on the fact that the job market is hard, and once you find a job its going to be alot of work with not so much play. So take the time now and have some fun! I love it!

  5. This is great advice, and I wish I was in the position to take advantage of it! I think in these times, it’s hard for recent grads to take a year or so off and travel, or explore new opportunities, but with student loans, and the amount of time it takes to find a “real job,” this idea is feeling farther and farther away. Hopefully in a few years when the economy turns around, taking a year off after graduating college will be more attainable.

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