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Gap year between BA and Grad School?

katenskatens 13 replies17 threads Junior Member
Hi, so I'm currently a highschool senior and I plan to double major in psychology and asian studies. My plan is to get my masters in psychology and hopefully my PhD if things work out. However, I want to teach english in Japan for at least 1-2 years in between as a way to travel a bit before I need to focus on my career. I'm also considering maybe doing 1 year in Korea or China (makes more money & free housing) and then 1 year in Japan.

I've researched a lot, so I know a lot about teaching abroad and that I should be able to manage paying towards my loans or deferring if necessary (of course interest accrues but I'd still pay the interest). I plan to budget reasonably and even if I defer set aside some each month as if I was paying them. My goal is keep under 40k on loans and plan to work part time and during the summer at a hair salon(I have a cosmetology license thru highschool).

So I basically just need some clarification on how applying to grad school works if you have a gap in between and how that works in terms of recommendations etc. Would I ask for recommendations before graduating?? Also how would paying off loans from my BA work with a gap year and then going to grad school?

Thanks for any information or advice, I appreciate it and sorry for the long post lol.
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Replies to: Gap year between BA and Grad School?

  • izrk02izrk02 518 replies19 threads Member
    My stepsister is currently doing something similar (different field). She graduated with a BA last year and is currently working. How she did it was she started applying as soon as grad apps opened for the 20-21 school year. All of her schools (around 6 of the T100) asked for a professional and personal. For her personal she asked her co-worker/mentor and professional she emailed one of her former English professors. But this is way too early for you to be thinking about grad school. Just worry about getting through the rest of HS and getting to undergrad first.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9363 replies352 threads Senior Member
    edited January 10
    My goal is keep under 40k on loans

    You can only borrow $27k total over 4 years. If your dad is still unemployed and paying off your sister's loans, how will be able to borrow $40k or more for undergrad?

    You can have a gap year after finishing your bachelor's. When you get to college, ask the adviser's what steps you need to take to pay to grad school. They'll have had plenty of experience.
    edited January 10
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  • happy1happy1 23366 replies2314 threads Senior Member
    You are getting WAY to far ahead of yourself. Focus on the task at hand -- finding an affordable college you can get admitted to and would be happy to attend.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1499 replies28 threads Senior Member
    edited January 10
    Hi @katens ,

    Since you may be spending two years doing this, you might want to consider doing a tour of Peace Corps service, as there are many supports and benefits of going this way....including the deferment of your loans (I believe the interest is deferred as well.) You would have cross-cultural training upon arrival in-country, social and medical support (and in the case of a true medical emergency you'd be medevaced back to the US at no cost to you), all travel costs covered, a readjustment allowance of a few thousand dollars upon your arrival back home, competitive status for government jobs once back home, and a huge network of returned volunteer friends for life. Almost everywhere I go I bump into someone who was in the Peace Corps and there's an instant sense of camaraderie (and I'm now 62 years old).

    Peace Corps can be helpful and impressive (in terms of graduate school admissions) and volunteers can take their GRE exams overseas (i.e. at Embassies and/or international schools). Currently, Peace Corps has programs in China and nine other Asian countries (though not Japan). In the past, aspiring volunteers had to go wherever Peace Corps placed them, but more recently, applicants can apply directly to the country programs that they like. The website has a lot of exciting information and volunteer stories if you'd like to peruse it.

    I don't think it's too early to start thinking about this (or your original plans to teach in Japan)...I was around nine years old when I decided to do it and read everything I could find written by Peace Corps Volunteers. I ended up doing two extended tours of service on two continents and worked a couple of years in the D.C. placement office. If you do decide to apply to Peace Corps, do your research by junior year of college and apply by early in your senior year as the application/vetting process can be very, very long. And, BTW, any meaty volunteer/leadership positions in the meantime would greatly help your application!
    edited January 10
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1499 replies28 threads Senior Member
    edited January 10
    ^ BTW, I knew many people who applied to (and were admitted to) graduate school while they were still away in the Peace Corps. Some walked out of Peace Corps and almost immediately into grad school. I don't know exactly the timing of how they did it all with regard to references, but it is possible (and during my time, there were no computers/i-phones expediting things...only VERY slow snail-mail and sometimes the use of embassy pouches. I'm sure it's easier today).
    edited January 10
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1499 replies28 threads Senior Member
    edited January 10
    I agree that this student must focus on the nitty-gritty present of applying for / funding /achieving that BA, but sometimes it's easier to put your long-time dreams (temporarily) on the shelf after getting enough information to know how those long-term dreams COULD become a reality. We all need a sense of hope and excitement at the beginning of a long journey!
    edited January 10
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3559 replies12 threads Senior Member
    edited January 10
    Regarding the recommendations, you could have conversations with the specific profs you have in mind while still in college and tell them about your future plans. Then later when the time comes, you can email them a request but also provide some text describing yourself and what you have been doing an/or some bullet points (with your course and overall grades, your paper topic if you wrote one in that class) and even a photo. It is not unusual for profs to be asked to write a letter a couple of years later and ideally it would be a prof who remembers you. It really isn't a big issue.
    edited January 10
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  • juilletjuillet 12724 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    OP - there's nothing really to worry about here. Lots and lots of people take time "off" between undergrad and grad school.

    All you have to do is form strong relationships with professors who can write you letters; then, when you are ready, reach back out to them with a letter and a resume jogging their memory a little bit and asking them to write you a recommendation. Some people ask their professors to write them one before they leave; theoretically, they could keep it on file and edit it slightly when the time comes.

    In many teach-abroad programs, you can defer your loans while you teach just as if you were in school. I'd recommend still making small payments on them, though, just to keep interest down.

    If you're interested in doing this, for Korea, check out the EPIK program. Fulbright will also send you to Korea (and a host of other Asian countries) for a year to serve as an English Teaching Assistant. For Japan, check out the JET Programme.

    I really wanted to do this after college, but I went straight to my PhD program instead. It's one of the few regrets I have in life. If this is something that you really want to do, please do keep your eyes on the prize.
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