Why You Should Spend Your Gap Year Volunteering

Considering taking some time off between high school and college? There are many benefits to spending your gap year volunteering. Click here to learn more!

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we forget how lucky we are. This is especially true for soon-to-be high school and college graduates.

Graduation is a major step towards the future – one some people get overwhelmed preparing to take. Between final exams, saying goodbyes, and all the details of looking ahead, many students feel like they need a vacation. Some even take a gap year.

A gap year is pretty much an extended summer or winter vacation. It’s a break many students plan for themselves, as an alternative to continuing on in their education right away.

Some gap years are spent traveling and backpacking, working and saving money, or even studying for major exams. A great option, though, is to spend a gap year volunteering.

Here are all the reasons you should take your time off from school in service of others.

Get Off the Couch

This first point may sound a bit silly, but think about it – with no more time to spend on going to class, studying, attending involvement meetings, and getting work done, how are you going to fill your days?

You may think you deserve a few hours of being a couch potato, which is fair to say. But, you have to plan something that won’t leave you waking up one day and realize you’ve spent a few months on the couch.

Do something with your gap year that means something.

To spend a gap year volunteering means to give yourself that much-needed break and to create positive change in the world at the same time. People take vacations all the time, but few have the dedication to commit their free time to a bigger cause.

Experience Life from a Different Perspective

Out of all the best volunteer abroad programs out there, one thing is for sure – you’re going to have your world turned upside down, and in the best of ways.

If you’ve ever been out of the country before, you have a small idea of what this means. But, regardless of how well traveled you are, keep in mind this is a year-long commitment.

It’s not a quick stop-and-go of service. It’s a time to dig deep into the world around you; to taste the food and learn the history and try to speak the language. This is sure to be unlike any vacation you’ve ever taken before.

Dive Into One of Your Passions

Sometimes, deciding to spend a gap year volunteering is not about knowing if you want to volunteer or not, but rather, where you want to go! Instead of looking at this opportunity in terms of the destination, think about what you’re passionate about.

Do you want to go into the medical field? Are you interested in ecological development and sustainability? Do you get goosebumps thinking about standing up for human rights?

These are the things you should debate as you decide where to go.

As great as all the different cultures out there are, the best match for you is the place where you can work on something that you’re deeply connected to. This will make you a more committed volunteer, which has a result on how well the project you’re a part of goes.

Discover New Things About Yourself

Maybe you know exactly what your passion is, and how you can express that through volunteering. Maybe it takes you a bit of time to decide where you want to spend your gap year volunteering.

Either way, you’re sure to discover so many new things about who you are once you’re doing the work asked of you. You may realize the educational path you’re on needs a bit of an adjustment, or decide to switch career choices altogether.

Or, you may just come to know yourself better on a more intimate level. Maybe you learn patience and understanding, or selflessness and the value of community. Such things aren’t taught in textbooks, and sometimes, it takes getting to know complete strangers to find these qualities within.

Improve the Skills You Already Know You Have

What if you already consider yourself to be pretty resourceful, or giving, or patient? Great – volunteering reinforces these values.

Whether you’re about to enter college or go out into the real world, you need to stand your ground firmly. This is both in terms of a practical sense and personal sense.

The time after your gap year is going to test you in terms of how independent you really are and how well you manage your finances. It’s going to bring out the discipline in you and show you your true character. Avoid any surprises by volunteering during your gap year.

Such efforts will strengthen the skills you already have. Plus, they’ll teach you a thing or two about the other tools you’ll need to navigate life.

Creating Lasting Memories, and Make an Impact

Whether you go away to nose-dive into a passion of yours or to do a bit of soul-searching, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Through volunteering with other young Americans and interacting with the locals of wherever you end up, there is so much to discover. As you learn about this new, interesting place, you’re taking a journey within. You’ll feel this while working, resting, and playing.

A gap year awakens your senses. It shows you just how powerful, courageous, and giving you can be, which are lessons that carry over into anything you do.

By the way, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Something or someone is bound to make a profound impact while you’re volunteering during your gap year. The only way for this to happen, though, is to get there.

Preparing to Spend a Gap Year Volunteering

There’s no limit to where you can go and what you can do to spend a gap year volunteering.

You just have to spend some time planning to make sure it’s what you truly want.

From picking the volunteering initiative to the location and your arrival date, every detail matters. Once you know where you’re headed to volunteer, start getting a feel for what to expect.

To discover all kinds of countries and cultures, click here.

What Can You Do with a GIST Degree?

GIST or Geographic Information Science Technology is becoming an increasingly popular degree course in the United States, not least because of the amount of different careers available upon graduation.  After graduating from an online GIST program, you can work for the government, for law enforcement and criminal justice, in transportation, or even for health and human services, the options are endless.

And, now that colleges like the University of Southern California are offering online geographic information science and technology degree courses, anyone can study from the comfort of their own home.  The infographic below, created by the university, explains in full just what you can do with a GIST degree.  As you can see, there are tons of industries you can work in.

Common Career Paths for the Student of Geographic Information and Technology is an infographic created by the University of Southern California.

Could An Online Degree Be For You?

Online degrees are an increasingly common route towards a degree or formal qualification. Over the last decade or so, online degrees have evolved from borderline scams to reputable degrees on par with their traditional counterparts. This has been helped in large part by the diverse range of already established and respected educational institutions who now offer online counterparts to their campus courses. Now that an online degree can offer the similar or same value to a traditional one, they represent fantastic value for money and a legitimate first step on a long-term career path.  Even if an online degree isn’t something you’ve really considered, read on to find out if you’re the kind of person who could benefit from studying one.

Flexibility

One of the greatest advantages of an online degree is that it can be completed over a different timescale to a university course, making them ideal for those who are either currently employed or those who have young children to look after and therefore are unable to dedicate themselves to full-time learning. These flexible studying timescales also allow those sensitive to the pressures of full-time education to take their time and ease the pressure. Online degrees also offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of the available subjects to study and often entry requirements aren‘t quite as strict for campus courses, and for those that do have prerequisite qualifications, they can often be studied prior to taking up the full course through the same institution.

Career Advancement

An online degree not only looks fantastic on a resume but is a great investment for those looking to advance on their chosen career path. For those looking to break into the world of business, a master’s in business administration (MBA) is the standard to which all entrepreneurs are held. An MBA will not only prepare you for how to start and run your own business but also how to manage others and as such is just as suitable for career advancement as it is for going solo. For those who already have a qualification, an online degree can upgrade or supplement it. A good example is a BSN to DNP online course, such as those offered by Bradley University. These online doctoral nursing programs are designed to allow those with a BSN to apply for a more senior and higher salaried role.

Lower Costs

The costs of an online course are significantly lower than those of studying on campus. Combined with the suitability of part-time online courses for those who are in work, they represent a strong investment with returns both financial and otherwise. Lower costs not only make the course more accessible but it encourages those who might not have otherwise considered it to pursue an area of study they consider risky.

The lessons and skills learned while studying an online degree are all applicable to many other areas of work and life and so the benefits extend beyond those gained from the degree itself.