How To Take A Gap Year: For Student Entrepreneurs

by Apr 17, 2024

Taking a gap year after your high school or college graduation offers significant benefits for every student and especially for entrepreneurs. The gap year experience is your opportunity to develop your thoughts, your plans, and gain additional skills. It’s a time to practice in a safer environment and test out ideas without severe adult consequences. It’s an opportunity to prepare for your future. 



How To Take A Gap Year



Take a gap year.

But know – the gap year is not an excuse for the unmotivated to do even less. It is not play time. 

Gap year students view this time as an opportunity for development. 


Gap years are an important part of your business strategy.  Make it part of your business plan.

At every stage, a successful entrepreneur treats their business like a business. 

Your business plan may be simple. It can literally be a sketch, but it needs to exist. Many students choose to take a gap year to support their personal development, to help make their first steps into the business world stronger.

Entrepreneurs know. Planning that first step starts with your business plan. 

See for information and basic tools to get you started. This working document captures your goals and acts as a guide. It is your starting point, and ensures your time and investment are in line with your priorities. 

Your gap year is part of that plan. It’s all about developing you, your business, and understanding your priorities. Your gap year is based on an action plan with goals, not sleeping in.  

Bridging the gap between high school graduation, trade school, the decision to go to college, grad school or embarking upon your serious career path offers an opportunity to grow up and an opportunity to develop your thoughts. 

This time allows you to future mature, but it should have nothing to do with immaturity – it’s about determining and figuring out. It’s appreciating and taking advantage of the opportunity to create extra time between serious focus at school and serious focus on your career goals and home.

Student entrepreneurs benefit a great deal from gap years after having time to consider a business plan and the effectiveness of your strategy from experience.

There is nothing wrong with starting life after college by remaining in your college town, taking a breather before going to graduate school, deciding if you need grad school or maybe time to focusing on a new skill set that you know will benefit you.




Graduate student learns How To Take A Gap Year



What is a gap year?


A gap year might be a time of exploration or a year abroad after high school and college graduations. Or students may determine a gap year in the middle of study periods may fit their own personal needs. 

Students take a gap year, whenever it makes sense to help guide their growth – or to seize a moment in time when networking opportunities abound. Talk with your family, your mentor, and those in a position to guide you.

The Gap Year Association defines a gap year as:

 “A semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and [before] career or post-secondary education, [to] deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.” 


Personally, I took a gap summer after my college graduation. It was perfect. I was very dedicated and involved during college and wanted time to do something different and think about my path. I decided to work as a wrangler on a dude ranch out west where I’d spent my college summers, and I didn’t regret a single day. As I recharged, I determined grad school could wait a year or two and that I didn’t want to live out west. I wanted to pursue corporate opportunities and see where that led.  

My purpose wasn’t to build a skillset. It was more about confidence, but I had defined purpose and a start and end date.

A gap year can help most if you don’t lose your momentum or your drive. Lose any idea of 32 hours is full-time or that full-time jobs are exhausting. In my case it was before sun up to after sun down and it was physically tough – and amazingly rewarding. The pictures still hang above my desk. I’m still friends with that crew. It can be that meaningful. 


Think about you. Think from a metacognitive standpoint. 

Are you living at home? There are benefits to taking time at home with your family. Consider re-entering that world with a focus on life skills and giving back that will benefit you for the rest of your life. 

The key is to be appreciative, use the time wisely, and realize this time is a gift. 

Realize a gap year allows you to explore additional options. No path sets you back. Each option prepares you. 😊

Authors Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson, studied 280 gap-year students. The results of their study showed those who enjoyed gap year activities had better interpersonal skills and became less selfish in work-related situations which led to increased long-term job satisfaction.

Gap year pros and cons are Many!

Girl looking How To Take A Gap Year



If you take a year, how will the experience benefit you?

This depends upon why you are taking this time. 

  • Undecided?
  • Think you already know it all?
  • Didn’t get in to your school or training program of choice? 
  • are you concerned with the pressures of college? 
  • Need a break from school? Got in and didn’t’ handle it well?
  • Got in, graduated, still need… practical skills, additional training, work experience – or something?
  • A year volunteering or a gap year abroad is your dream?


A gap year isn’t for everyone. However a successful gap year is a way for students to fill in all of these opportunities.

It gives students another year to develop, to rebrand yourself, and stand out among other applicants. 


In the words of Dr. Prem Jagyasi, “No one can decide the road that inspires us to kick-start a journey better than the one embarking on the path. We may find others joining our journey, but we have to take the first step alone to reach our destination.”   



Explore types of gap year program options!

It’s personal. Your gap year options might look like this!


An organized gap year offers the most value. Though your year might be structured or unstructured, planning your gap year before starting it is a must.

You want to take a gap that is an intentional gap – one that maximizes your time. 

Do your research. Terrific resources are out there, and you have loads of options. 

  • Your college admissions office is a great starting place. 
  • The Gap Year Association can help you access accredited programs. 
  • Service programs through AmeriCorps are available for those 18 or older.
  • The Peace Corp will open your eyes to ways to volunteer, appreciate, and humble yourself.
  • Get a job. Learn responsibility, financial literacy including how to save money, and why you should. Practice a specific skill or transferable skills to self-develop or see if that’s the path for you


“The best gap years tend to be the ones that push students to think about who they are and their role in the world,” says Joe O’Shea, associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies at Florida State University and author of “Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs.”


What’s unique is you. What’s similar is in the fact that it’s developmental in motivational. 

Your gap year may be between levels of education, your career path or before or after military experience. You can take a gap year at any age – you determine whether it’s an actual year, or more or less. 

It’s about your goals.


There are plenty of opportunities within the United States to travel to new places and experience different cultures too. Options available to you abound. Don’t rush. But have a plan. Again – this isn’t time to waste.

Your gap year offers you endless opportunities that can pay back. For example, maybe you want to travel abroad – why not combine learning or teaching abroad so you can develop your business strategy and skillset at the same time?



Volunteering during A Gap Year



Facts. What a gap year experience is Not.


Is there such a thing as a student entrepreneur without ambition?? 

I think not, but just in case…

A gap year is NOT for those without ambition. 

  • It’s not a way of opting out of responsibility and adulthood. 
  • It’s not purely time wasted by wandering or sleeping in.  
  • It’s not a year-long vacation paid for by parents who pay your bills.

For those with ambition, trying to figure things out or craft a better path, it’s time well spent. 

Student entrepreneurs with gap year plans do not limit their academic and career options. It allows students the opportunity to build and grow – it is not merely a delay. 

Gap years can be shorter or longer than 12 months. Students may decide on a working gap year – as part of building their portfolio, they might also explore the world and gain life experience.


Now that you are graduating, you face the big question: 

What do I do now? 

As an entrepreneur, you may know. But your longer term plan likely includes short term goals such as paying your adult bills, funding your business,  honing additional skills. It’s a lot. Yes. We have all been there, so be humbled by that knowledge and inspired by knowing it IS possible.

Laugh. Breathe.

Now move forward. 

A gap year requires thoughtful planning and intentionality. It should not be seen as a break from responsibilities, but as an opportunity to gain valuable experiences and personal growth before moving forward with your educational or career path. 

  • Set your intentions and pre-plan. 
  • Have a goal for this time
  • Plan your time

Research the pros and cons.

  • For example, if your gap year is before college, know if it will hinder your acceptance or approved financial aid or scholarships.
  • If you are accepted, know if they will defer admission. 
  • If you are in-between semesters, know the options for continuing your program.
  • If it’s after you have started a new job, is there an option to return to this position? 

Explore funding options. It’s not on your parents. It’s not part of a scholarship program; in fact, it could close your scholarship opportunities. Know what you can or will earn during this period and how those funds will be used.

Think it through. What is your short term goal and consider your ultimate goal. This is a time to further develop your direction and strengthen your skillset and resolve. You got this.



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BLOG CATEGORY: Student Journey

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