Have you considered taking a year off before college to spend it overseas working and living amongst another culture? The gap year is a relatively new concept for american students, and should be considered when deciding the next move in life. In the US, Gap Year is beginning to gain popularity even though it has been a widely accepted practice in the rest of the western world for decades.
While this article is not meant to cut down higher education and its importance in today's world, it is meant to inform of the benefits of the Gap Years' value.
It is usually expected that after high school its on to college. After college its off to working and paying off your college debt. Then go ahead and make some babies and you're allowed to retire. In the US, pressure on getting a good job and following the trend is very overwhelming, often forcing people to get a job immediately after high school or college.
Gap year is not a year of vacation to lay around drinking mojitos on a hammock. Gap year is, for all intents and purposes, a time for learning and working or volunteering abroad. It teaches you how to work with people from all different cultures as well as a new skill set which you may not have found otherwise.
This is also not the financial risk which it may be perceived. As the Gapper is actually working abroad they earn money which can be used to save for the future and also spend on life's necessities while traveling. The Gap year offers people a taste of independence and the life lessons of making decisions on their own, important attributes which isn't always found in educational institutions.
The best age to take advantage of a Gap Year is in late teens and early twenties. It is at this point when people are going through the motions of life, not always knowing what they want to do long-term. It is known that 80% of college-bound students haven't decided on a major and 50% will change their major while in college. This age of uncertainty is the perfect time for an experience which will develop personality and offer more direction in life.
While it is possible to go through the proper government channels to acquire a work visa on your own, you can also use a reputable service such as BUNAC. At BUNAC they offer a program to work in Australia, New Zealand and Europe or to volunteer in South America. There are many benefits of going through an organization like BUNAC including job assistance, application processing and other services which will ensure your experience is a beneficial one.
Upon your return from a year of working abroad, you come back with much larger eyes and the first of many life changing experiences under your belt. It proves that there are important things in life outside of the learn/work/babies/retire trend that has crept into American lifestyle.
Working abroad will allow you to gain new job skills and internationalize your resume, which is an asset in today's global economy. Most importantly, you will make life long friends with people from all over the world. When making your post high school choices, consider a year abroad.
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