How to…The Gap Year

There’s a new trend that has become increasingly popular among post-graduate students – taking a gap year between college and graduate school. The idea is that this time is for students to boost their resume before taking on graduate school full-time, and to enhance their confidence and understanding of the graduate program they are about to embark on. I took a gap year (or rather, two years) and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have compiled some information for students who are potentially interested in taking a gap year but just aren’t sure if they should or what they should do during it. Click [here] for more information or just read it below.

Disclaimer: This information is geared toward students interested in going to graduate school in developmental or clinical psychology. But again, this information would be helpful for anyone interested in graduate programs targeted at working with children. 

Why take a gap year?  

  • If you’re unsure about what kind of graduate education you want to attend
  • If you need more experience before going to the graduate school of your choosing

What should I do during the gap year?                                                               

  • Get experience that is relevant to your field of interest!
  • Even if it’s broad, just get some experience that’s not just coffee shop or Pizza Hut

Sure the term is “gap-year” but should it really be only one year?                                        

  • Short answer… no!
  • Think about it…when you’re applying to graduate school you want to be able to USE your gap year to your benefit (i.e. get your boss to write a recommendation, talk about your responsibilities at your job)
  • By the time you are ready for this information, you will only be at your job for a few months
  • So… suggestion…take 2 years! No more… (3 can sometimes be okay) but definitely NOT more than that!
  • HOWEVER, we are all different, and this decision should not be taken lightly…so, think about it!

Psychology-related jobs                                                                                                                 

  • ABA therapist
    • Quick training, working with kids, school or home setting, work based on behavioral plan that your boss creates
  • Research Assistant
    • At a University (larger state Universities would have these kinds of jobs)
    • At a Research firm (Abt Associates, Urban Institute, ChildTrends, etc.)
    • Hospital setting (usually underfunded, but research hospitals are always looking for someone)
  • Working with kids with Disabilities
    • Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore is a good facility for this kind of thing
  • Teacher
    • Pretty easy to get teaching certificates
    • Even easier for preschool/daycare
  • PeaceCorps, Americorps, Teach for America, CityYear, KIPP
    • Great for those looking for service-related experiences
  • Shadow people you think are interesting
    • Just email them! People are really responsive!
  • Even nannying full time would give you good experiences!
  • Use resources!
    • Google it! You’ll find resources that other schools have!

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