As college graduation has caught some completely prepared and others completely off guard, one option all grads would be smart to consider is the Gap Year.

You know that feeling you recently enjoyed when you finished your last test, submitted your last paper, or applied finishing touches on your last project?

Well, enjoy it for as long as you can because now the hard part begins: What to do after graduation.

There are some students who want to apply their degrees and go straight to work, while others aspire to broaden their education with post-graduate studies.

But others decide to take a year off from school, which is known as the gap year.

There are several things to endeavor when taking a year off, but they are only beneficial if the time is used wisely.

Several doors can be opened with opportunity during this year away from school, books, late library nights and insufficient funds.

The gap year gives students a chance to explore the real world entirely outside of a classroom, taking advantage of opportunities to gain real-world experiences.

For example, finding your identity through gaining knowledge on culture, simplifying your goals as far as a career, and giving you the ability to add more to your resume.

Who knows, there is a possibility that you may gain some experience in the career world, and change your mind entirely as far as what area you would like to earn a master’s degree.

Might I add, the gap year is exactly how it sounds — gap year. Which means, you, as a college graduate, can become involved in several different things that you may not have had time for when attending a four-year university.

“They [students] can return to school with a clear understanding of the opportunity it represents to become an expert in an area the student is truly passionate about and committed to,” Tricia Taorminaj, CEO of a gap year program called Thinking Beyond Borders, said during an interview published in the Huffington Post.

There are several resources that help provide opportunities to utilize a gap year. By seeking and receiving a full-time job position, it would be a good way to fund an abroad program, or pay off student loans.

Furthermore, there are several gap year programs in which graduates have the opportunity to travel abroad, participate in volunteer work and gain real life experiences.

According to the university Career Opportunities program, there are several different options to consider when deciding which path to take after completing an undergraduate degree.

By exploring these options, the graduate can focus on individual strengths.

Another positive outcome when choosing to take a gap year is receiving a job that negotiates tuition costs.

There are several corporations that assist in paying their employees to earn post-graduate degrees. The IRS 11 publication mentions that through written consensus, expenses like tuition, books, supplies and equipment can all be funded through your employer.

Why would employers help you pay for college?

Well, it not only benefits you, but also the company. The website,, states: “Some [employers] see opportunity to expand their organization’s intellectual and organizational capacity … or [they are] purely after increased employee retention.”

Also, it is more common than not for employers to receive a tax write-off by assisting employees with tuition costs.

Ultimately, it is often cheaper for employers to hire you and pay for higher education than it is to hire an individual who already has a graduate degree due to the fact that they require a higher starting salary for completing a higher form of education.

I recommend considering the gap year because it can be extremely beneficial in several ways.

However, utilizing the time in a beneficial way is the key ingredient for the recipe of success.

If graduation has snuck up on you, it may be reasonable to explore your options rather than head straight to another year of college.

By taking this time off, you can reflect on your accomplishments and strengths to broaden the path to success.

By Victoria Wright

Victoria Wright, a senior public relations major from Festus, Mo., is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. Wright enjoys drawing, photography, blogging and swimming. Currently, Wright has a photography internship with the St. Louis Blues. After graduation, Wright plans to head to New York in the field of fashion PR while working toward a master's degree in marketing.