The cliche path we’ve all been told is, “once you finish high school, you go to college, and right after college you get a job.” But what if you were able to give yourself a leg up and come in more confident and prepared than other incoming students? What’s the point of rushing into school, especially if you’re not ready to decide your career path? You may be wondering if you should take a year off after high school. Taking a year to yourself, where you can discover your passions and hone your skills, can be greatly beneficial.
The competition for coveted Commercial Real Estate jobs is greater than ever! Some of you may already know you have an interest in Commercial Real Estate because your parents are in it, or family friends are in it, but after learning about all the CRE industry subsets (Careers In Commercial Real Estate); you might feel overwhelmed. If you feel that way, a gap year could be a solution for you.
Note from Spencer and Michael: This post is written by our colleague, Aiden Johnson. Aiden is a summer associate with A.CRE and will be entering his sophomore year at SMU in the Fall. A huge thank you to Aiden for sharing his perspective with the A.CRE community!
Taking a year off after high school can help you gain perspective
According to Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27% of people actually work in their college major. That statistic suggests that most people don’t know what they want to do in college, with many finding that they dislike their major late into their college education. Taking a year to discover yourself and your passions in the real world is an experience like no other.
The transition between high school and college is one of the few times with low expectations and loads of time. Several of my colleagues that took gap years to focus on interests outside of real estate had successful experiences in their own right. One dove into his passion for rally car racing and worked at a mechanics shop to build his own rally car and specialize in race mechanisms. Another worked as a used car salesperson, improving his negotiation and sales skills. Lastly, one decided to get a recreational pilot’s license and flies all across the West Coast in his free time.
This moment in one’s life is the best for trying new things, expenses are low and the experience one gets from a gap year will reap benefits for years to come in the future.
A gap year provides an opportunity to gain experience and skills in your prospective major
Going back to work in your college major, a year off after high school can provide you the opportunity to “try before you buy”. Getting your real estate license, having experience prior to your freshman year, or using online resources introduces you to the world of commercial real estate.
After this experience, you will go into college with more clarity, leading to:
- A higher paying job
- More job satisfaction
- Better internships
- Bigger network
- More skills related to real estate analysis, like those learned in The Accelerator
For you, that could mean getting your real estate license, trying residential appraisal, land brokerage, working in property management, or doing janitorial work within a commercial asset learning how the building operates! With this experience, you could now enter school as a freshman with all these accomplishments on your resume and LinkedIn. Furthermore, you can feel confident that you have a better understanding of your interests.
All these skills and training are incredibly important to success, but the most important skill acquired from a gap year is time management.
Taking a year off after high school can help develop Maturity
By taking a gap year, you won’t have the structure of school, so you’ll need to be disciplined and create your own schedule to complete the tasks at hand. If you do choose to go down a similar path of starting a career in CRE prior to college, you’ll need to be comfortable talking to professionals, reaching out to businesses, negotiating deals, and blocking out time to complete work.
Another thing to consider is what employers really care to see: a passion for real estate! By taking a gap year, you are furthermore proving to employers that you have a 100% interest in this field. What you can achieve out in the workforce for a year before attending school will be much more impactful than spending a year at school when you are unsure what you want to do in real estate. Gap years allow for increased levels of independence and motivation never achieved throughout high school, driving work ethic by a desire for improvement rather than for a GPA.
A gap year can help you choose the Right School
When we think about graduating college, coming out with only a degree, a GPA, and the connections we made at school, it puts a lot of weight on the program we choose. We need to think about where we can get the most benefit and where we can get the very best education for our money. Picking the right school is hard. It’s about finding the best cultural fit while also finding the best programs.
Everyone has a different idea of what they look for in cultural fit, but when it comes to picking the school with the best real estate programs, we’ve helped with that through our University Deep Dive Series. This series is designed to help you understand what the various college programs have to offer so you can find the best fit for your preferences. A.CRE has selected the top universities and broken down their education, club events, faculty, and courses to help you find the best college for your RE education.
Hopefully, this article provides some clarity to your journey after high school and makes your real estate path a little easier. If having maturity, working in your major, and garnering a certain skill set sounds like a good fit, a gap year could be a good idea for you.
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