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Maximizing Your Gap Year: 8 Tips for Productivity and Earning Money

8 Tips To Make Your Gap Year More Productive (and Earn Money, Too)

8 Tips To Make Your Gap Year More Productive (and Earn Money, Too)


For many young adults, the next step after high school is to either go to college, get a job, or take a gap year. A gap year can give you some time to figure out what you want to do before launching into the next major phase of life.

While some people view their gap year as a break, it’s also a great time to be productive, build new skills, and even earn some money. If you’re considering taking a gap year, here are the top ways to make it as meaningful and productive as possible.

Start Planning Ahead of Time

Before you take a gap year, it’s a good idea to make a plan for how you want to spend it and what you want to accomplish. For some people, this might involve traveling and seeing a different part of the world. For others, this could mean volunteering their time to a meaningful cause. Or it could be a chance to pick up useful skills for future employment or money-making opportunities.

“A productive gap year can be an excellent opportunity for personal growth and skill development while taking a break from traditional education or career paths,” said Sunil Bhuyan, digital marketer and founder of AffiliateHacker. “One way to make the most of this time is by engaging in activities that align with your interests and help you gain valuable experiences. These may include volunteering, traveling, taking online courses, or learning a new language.”

Take a few months to a year to figure out what you want to do with your time. Once you’ve done this, set some goals to help keep you on track throughout the year. If you’re not sure where to start, speak with a high school counselor or a consultant who specializes in gap year planning.

Be Intentional

“In my experience, making your gap year more productive is all about being intentional,” said Noel Griffith, CMO at Supply Gem. “Are you going abroad because you want to learn more about yourself? To improve your language skills? To better understand the culture of another area? Whatever your motivation, make sure you have a plan for how you’re going to accomplish those things and then stick with it!”

The clearer you are about your intentions, the better the chances you’ll accomplish whatever it is you’ve set out to do. Plus, you might need to explain your gap year to a future employer or college admissions officer, so it’s good to be prepared.

Make a Schedule

Although a year might seem like a long time, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals and end up on the other side of the gap year without having accomplished much. This is especially common for people who’ve never broken away from their usual routine before and are still learning time management skills.

“High school is NOT always a great preparation for university,” said Brady Norvall, founder and CEO of the education life coaching firm, FindaBetterU. “What is, though, is learning excellent time management through finding those things which bring one a positive sense of self and the world.”

If you want to maintain productivity during your gap year, make a schedule. “Working is great and it provides some structure, as well, but take time to grow your own interests and expand your idea of what it means to learn,” added Norvall. “Some type of exercise at the same time every day. Some type of reading at the same time every day. Maybe listen to a podcast, watch a film, or get together with a friend. But arrange these in advance.”


Learning some basic work skills during your gap year can be a great way to get ahead and prepare yourself for a future career. A good way to do this, while giving back to the community, is to volunteer.

There are local and international programs where you can volunteer for a few months to a year. Depending on the program, you might be able to volunteer in exchange for food and lodging.

Work Abroad or With Family

Another option is to get a job overseas. There are many different work abroad programs to consider. Some are specifically intended for young adults taking a gap year after high school or college. Each program has its own eligibility criteria and benefits, so do your research ahead of time.

Alternatively, you could work closer to home. “Many young people I know, whose families have a small business, choose to do a gap year in order to work more closely with those family members to better learn about said business,” said Norvall.

Start a Project (and Make Money)

If you’re passionate about something specific — whether it’s to build a startup, start a YouTube channel, or write a book — a gap year is the perfect time to get started. Choose one big project and make a step-by-step plan for how you’re going to do it.

“In my experience, there are some ways to take a gap year and still earn some money,” said Griffith. “I’ve been working…”

Related Facts

  • Some colleges are now offering gap year programs, where students can defer enrollment for a year and participate in a structured gap year.
  • According to the American Gap Association, 90% of students who take a gap year return to college within a year, and their GPA is typically higher than those who didn’t take a gap year.
  • The cost of a gap year can vary widely, depending on what you choose to do. Some programs cost thousands of dollars, while others offer free or low-cost opportunities.

Key Takeaway

A gap year can be a great way to explore your interests, build new skills, and prepare yourself for the next phase of life. By being intentional and making a plan, you can make the most of your time and even earn some money along the way.


A gap year doesn’t have to be a break from reality. It can be a chance to set goals, build skills, and earn some money while exploring your passions. Whether you choose to travel, volunteer, work, or start a project, the key is to be intentional and make a plan for how you want to spend your time.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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