Ask a College Advisor: What Can I Do During My Gap Year to Bolster My College Application?
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Question: What can I do during my gap year to bolster my college application?
Answer: During a gap year, you should find ways to pursue your interests and remain active in your community. Making progress toward your personal, academic, and career goals will make you a more competitive college applicant. Colleges like to see proof of how you spent your time so they can understand more about your strengths, personality, and values.
A strong college applicant can effectively articulate their interests. A gap year is a perfect time to clarify your passions while taking time to plan for college. Here are a few things you can do during your gap year to make your college application stronger.
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Don't Treat It Like a "Year Off"
Leaving high school can be a big adjustment. A lack of structure can make it easy to lose focus. Use your time wisely by balancing rest and rejuvenation with meaningful strategies to prepare for the future and improve your college application. Schedule in time to do things like research schools, find a mentor, and stay connected to your support system.
Gain Work Experience
Getting a job, internship, or apprenticeship is a great way to show a college that you're responsible, engaged, and serious about your goals. During your gap year, apply for opportunities that reflect your values and build skills related to your potential industry.
Volunteer and Do Community Service
Giving back to your community through service projects and volunteer work shows admissions staff that you are connected to mission-driven causes. Staying active within your community gives colleges a clearer picture of how you might contribute on campus.
Traveling is a great way to expand your perspective. Visiting new places can help you add another dimension to your portfolio as a college applicant. Domestic or international travel can deepen your worldview, which could translate well to your desire to join a diverse college community.
Just because you're not enrolled in school doesn't mean that you should stop learning. Whether it's through an online course, seminar, workshop, or independent learning, keep your brain active and look for opportunities to gain knowledge. These activities demonstrate that you're student-minded, even if you're not currently in school.
Improve Your Writing
One of the major components of your application packet is a well-written personal statement. During your gap year, spend time developing your writing skills through practice or courses, or find a writing tutor who can assist you in preparing a strong college admissions essay.
There are several things that you can do during a gap year to boost your college application, such as getting a job, volunteering, or pursuing passion projects. Approach your gap year as a time to learn more about yourself and a chance to show potential colleges that you're continuing your extracurricular activities beyond high school. Expand your worldview and build your college portfolio by engaging in activities that demonstrate the type of person you are and how you plan to add value to your desired school.
Check out more answers to college-related questions or submit your own question on our Ask a College Advisor page.
DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.