After four or so years, you are finally a senior. During this scary year, the pressure sets in, the stress rises, and the mind races with the open-ended possibilities of your post-graduation days.
For your major, you know it is in your best interest to go to graduate school. You apply, but to your growing frustration and dismay, you cannot get in anywhere. Now what are you to do after the graduation high dies down?
You might have to deal with what HuffPost College’s David D. Burstein calls a “gap year” in his article “Consider a Gap Year.” While he is referring to high school students, the same concept can still apply for those between a higher education and an even higher one.
A year or even a semester appears as a long time to those who plan to jump straight into the grad school pool. You are rived up to push through more collegiate years, and those rejection letters are just slowing you down.
For a minute, calm down from the stress and look at this positively. A semester to a year off could be a good thing. You just conquered four or so years of endless stress, papers, tests, lectures, meetings, and projects, aren’t you exhausted? Take this time to relax and rejuvenate. Grad school will throw all the things that undergrad school did at you, just in a way more intense level.
Why rush into that? Rest your mind. Rest from the mental overload you just graduated from. Catch up on those missed hours of sleep. Celebrate the fact that you now have one degree under your belt. Using this time to rest will refresh you for when a graduate program finally allows you in.
Work and save money. Getting one degree was financially bad enough, but now you want to undertake the financial repercussions of obtaining another. Take this time to rebuild your savings account by getting a job or start working more hours at your current one. You can even hunt for scholarships and grants. You now have months of free time; use them to arm yourself financially for any school you plan to go to.
Traveling can also be beneficial. Go home and visit your family and old friends. Go to different places that you might not have been able to before. Who knows, you might find some place you click with and want to settle down in, or at least the university where you want to attend graduate school. If you have the money and really want to do something exciting, study abroad. Look up programs or plans that would allow you to do so. Seeing a different country through your educated eye will help broaden your perspective and give you a chance to use what you learned in a different culture.
Do an internship. While you were in school, you might not have had the opportunity to do one; now you do. You will use your degreed knowledge in your actual field, giving you the kind of experience that will be useful later on. The internship could even evolve to a part-time position while you are in school or even a full-time position that will make you rethink grad school all together.
Burstein had his gap year between high school and college. He did not view it is as “taking a year off” but rather “engaging in a different kind of education, one that is more individually focused, and experiential.”
While you might not plan to take a year off, you can still use the time in a way that will focus you for grad school, or even change your future plans completely.