Advice for Taking Time off School

Some things are best learned from outside a college classroom. So if you're thinking of taking some time off school to reflect and serve, here's some information to consider.

  1. 1. You Don’t Have to Take a Whole Year Off

    UW undergrads who have completed one quarter at the UW can take the next one off—and keep their registration priority for the following quarter without applying to be a returning student. So if you have priority II registration after fall quarter at the UW, you can take winter quarter off, and still have priority II registration for spring quarter (summer quarter doesn’t count towards the consecutive quarters). If a gap year is more than you’re looking for, a quarter is still enough time to do some meaningful work. The full Quarter-Off Eligibility Policy is available here.

  2. 2. It Can Be Cheap

    There are tons of gap-year programs out there, but traveling independently is almost always cheaper. This was inspired by a friend of mine—he took a gap year in Peru for ~$20 a day prior to enrolling in college. And if you’re really ambitious you can probably make it cheaper. Some destinations are definitely more cost-friendly than others: here’s an introductory list of economical countries. And as always, exchange rates can help you make a more informed decision

  3. 3. Walk in With a Goal

    Reflect on what you’re hoping to accomplish during this experience. Is it meeting new people? Experiencing a different culture? Gaining experience in a certain sector? Or just helping people out? Keep your goals in mind, and you can narrow down your sea of options while ensuring a worthwhile experience.

  4. 4. Think Globally, Act Locally

    Current circumstances have made it difficult to travel. Luckily, Washington boasts many refreshing destinations that are close to home. If you’re hoping to help out your local communities while taking time off school, here’s a list of nonprofits and charities in the Seattle area—see if one tickles your fancy.