Delayed enrollment is a common feature at many colleges and universities, allowing accepted students to put off becoming freshmen until a year or more has elapsed since they chose to attend. This offers many the opportunity to travel or work in a field that interests them before they set foot in a college classroom.
Once you reach your senior year at university, however, your thoughts may shift to finding that perfect job within your field or the graduate program that will allow you to reach your goals. Maybe, though, a voice in the back of your head is telling you that you’re not ready to get a start on your exact career just yet. You might even want to travel more than you have so far in life.
At the age of 21 or 22 when you graduate, you don’t need to limit your options. A growing trend is the idea of a post-graduate gap year (“American gap year”), where college seniors choose to explore or take jobs that don’t fit in with what they want to do with their majors.
A perennial favorite is teaching English abroad. While Europe may seem like a great fit, and allow you to take advantage of the two required Spanish courses you took at college, Asia may actually be a better fit for most students. There are two reasons: a larger population that wants to learn English as a second language and less stringent requirements for teachers.
For example, in China, Taiwan and Japan you can often find positions teaching English without any certifications. The JET program in Japan even ties the process to embassies, allowing a level of security you might not find when contacting a private company in a foreign country. Compare that to Europe, where you may need to hold CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching to Adults) or one of several others.
More importantly, visa requirements differ from country to country, but in the Middle East and Asia it may be possible to teach for longer periods without having to deal with immigration hassles.
A less used option is the seeming opposite of the Peace Corps. You can join the military as either an officer candidate or enlisted personnel. You’ll be paid to travel in the U.S. and possibly the world, and for two or more years be paid to learn a variety of tasks. The advantage of being college-educated is that you can be fast-tracked into becoming a commissioned officer, where the pay is better and the responsibilities can translate well into civilian life.
Either way, you don’t need to look at graduation as Job, Graduate School or else. Take a broader look, and if the itch to explore is there, consider going abroad. Your career will still be waiting for you when you come back.
by John Sylo