3 Meaningful Ways to Fill Your Time Between Undergrad and Grad School
You’ve decided you want to go to graduate school, but need a break before doing so. The gap year(s) between undergrad and grad school can be beneficial in a lot of ways. They can help you save money, gain work experience, build skills, and give you time and space to help you determine what you really want to study. In fact, many graduate school programs (particularly business and law) more frequently accept candidates who have taken a few years to do these aforementioned tasks. If you’re questioning how to use the time wisely, read on for suggestions.
1. Find a 1-2 Year Opportunity
Landing a job is often ideal for those looking for build their skills and earn maximum income during this time. While gaining full-time employment the traditional way (i.e. working for an organization for a year or two before moving on) works well for many, others seek out short-term or contract positions that have a 1 or 2 year lifespan. The benefit to these types of opportunities is that all parties involved understand the length of commitment, so you’ll be sure not to burn any bridges by leaving after only a year. Also, training is often conducted in a systematic, short-term way to make the most of your short time with the organization. Examples of 1-2 year opportunities include, but are most certainly not limited to things like:
- Research or educational fellowships
- Teaching programs like Urban Teachers, Teach for America, The New Teacher Project, and international programs to teach English abroad
- Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or NGO jobs
- Outdoor, adventure or hospitality Jobs in unique locations found through things like WWOOF, National Park Jobs, Cruise Ship, or CoolWorks.com
Get involved in the community and contribute to a cause you care about! This will show motivation and initiative on your resume, but more importantly this experience will help you meet new people and could uncover what you’d really like to do long term! Not sure where to start? Visit volunteermatch.org to find an opportunity.
3. Prepare for Grad School Applications
There’s a lot of prep work that goes into submitting a stellar application to graduate school. For many, an exam is required such as the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT. The time between undergrad and grad school is a great opportunity to study and take the necessary exam. Some people learn best through practice exams, while others may chose to purchase a test prep book or participate in a study group. Find the method that works for you. Resources found through ETS, Princeton Review, or Kaplan may be useful to you.
In addition, many grad school applications require letters of recommendation. Now is the time to reach out to potential recommenders and ask for letters. Consider former supervisors, coworkers, advisors, colleagues, and professors who can attest to your work ethic and interests as they apply to graduate school.
Take advantage of the time before going to grad school to do something meaningful. How are you planning to use you gap between undergrad and grad school wisely?