Jan 29, 2017 07:28 PM EST

How To Make The Most Out Of A Gap Year

Most high school graduates look forward to starting college after graduation, but over the past few years, more and more students are opting to take a gap year. Though gap years have been a common occurrence in Europe, it is now a growing trend in the U.S. as young people want a chance to see the world, gain some work experience, or earn a little money before heading to university.

Take for instance former President Barack Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia Obama. The 18-year-old made headlines last year when it was announced that she would be taking a gap year before entering Harvard University. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Malia is making the most of her gap year by working as an intern for Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. A source said that she is expected to begin work in the New York office of Weinstein Co. in February before she attends Harvard this fall.

Apart from working for a Hollywood producer, what else can high school graduates do to make the most out of their gap year? Here are a few suggestions on what graduates can do before heading to college.

Earn some money

There are several ways that high school graduates can earn some money before heading to college. Don’t just go to the corner coffee house for a barista job—try something out of your comfort zone. You could look into internships in other parts of the world. This way, you could travel and gain some life experience while saving up for the future.

If a family member has a business, you could work for him or her and ask if you could learn how to run a business. You can also take this opportunity to start your own small business. If you’re crafty, you can sell your wares on Etsy, Facebook, or Instagram.

Travel

According to Online College, most people want to spend their gap years traveling as much as possible. Though some might balk at the cost of traveling, there are many inexpensive ways to see the world.

Backpacking is one inexpensive way to see the world, and Southeast Asia is a backpacker’s paradise as there are various places that are rich in culture, the food is flavorful and cheap, and one can stay at hotels or backpacker hostels for about $15 a night.

If you’re hesitant about leaving the country, you can always take a road trip across America with friends. It’s a chance to see the country and visit relatives and friends in other states.

Volunteer

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the country and in impoverished parts of the world. You can volunteer for community projects in Africa, where people are needed to teach school and build homes, among others. If you don’t want to leave home, you can always volunteer in your community’s organizations. You could also check your local hospital to find out if there are any volunteering programs which will allow you to get a firsthand look at careers in healthcare.

For more, check out Jobs & Hire’s report on low-cost business ideas.

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