How should a CS major spend their gap year?

This is a huge opportunity for you.

Depending on your budget and flexibility I would do this. I’m going to plan this out in terms of quarters for your gap year. Feel free to move things around as you see fit.

For the first 3 months (Q1):

  1. Learn some basic coding (HTML, CSS, Python, SQL, etc) through the many resources available online. You can find amazing courses on Udemy Online Courses or with a simple Google search.
  2. If finances aren’t the problem, join a developer bootcamp. These are usually done in 3 months and can really fast-track you on the way to being competent enough for an entry-level position. They usually also work to make sure you get placed straight out of the program. They do have an initial fee though (but much cheaper than college).
  3. Get a job. Learn how to make money and be independent from your parents. Doesn’t matter how glamorous it is — it doesn’t matter if you’re a sales associate at Macy’s — it’s just a way for you to develop your professional skills and gain more capital ($) in order to learn more.

For months 4–6 (Q2):

  1. If you haven’t already, create some coding projects. Be curious about other people’s projects on GitHub, and find a way to contribute your imagination to a real-life coding project. You might also be able to find some freelance work on Upwork.
  2. Participate in your local coding communities. You can find these on or online forums. The thing is, you want to involve yourself with like-minded people and build things together. The great thing about coding is that you can do most networking online. There’s a chance that someone will enjoy talking and working with you, which could lead to a programming internship or job.

For months 7–12 (Q3-Q4):

  1. By now, you should have a nice portfolio of coding work under your belt. Make sure to document everything you’ve created so you’re ready if ever asked by an employer.
  2. Read this guide on how to get a job without college. Use that knowledge to send out a value proposition to 5 companies you want to work for.
  3. If you follow those principles, you should have a new coding job. Chances are since you picked them, you’ll be working with inspiring people. Engage with your co-workers and ask them what led them to success in their careers.

And as always, through all of these steps, continue reading, watching tutorials, creating, and interacting with the community.

If you do this, you’re going to be MILES ahead of your classmates if you decide that going to college is the right choice for you after your gap year. You’ll have so many things if you follow these steps:

  • Confidence and competency from actual professional coding experience.
  • A network of people who know your work and will vouch for you for recommendations or referrals to new jobs.
  • A portfolio of undeniable proof of your coding ability for employers to see, and the fact that it’s self-directed is even better.

Hope your gap year goes well!