10 Good Reasons to Take a Gap Year

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: January 29, 2013

The idea of taking a gap year between high school and college isn't uncommon in America, but it's starting to take root. Not only will you have a blast; but after a year of traveling or working, you're likely to bring a valuable real-life perspective to the college classroom. In addition, here are 10 good reasons to take time off:

Your Brain Needs a Rest

After 12-plus years of schooling, it's safe to say your brain needs a rest. A gap year allows the mind to rest while you continue to learn in non-conventional ways. Education at its core is about obtaining, understanding and utilizing knowledge who says it has to be found in a school setting?

Building Confidence

Living on your own can help build self-confidence and prove that you can do what you set your mind to. Taking a gap year is a risk in itself, and traveling, volunteering or working only adds to the level of oversight.

See the World

Leaving everything behind in a SmartStop self storage unit or the parent's basement is a tougher task than it seems. You have to be ready to say goodbye to what's familiar and embrace a sometimes different, scary and amazing world full of cultures, languages and people who can teach you something. From Africa to Asia, seeing even a tiny portion of the world can give you serious perspective on what you want and what you have to give in life.

It'll Help You Decide on a Major

Taking a year to work or travel can help find academic focus before starting your degree. You'll have time to explore options and figure yourself out a little before entering college life.

You Can Save Money

Gap years aren't just for well-heeled rich kids. You can work part-time while traveling or volunteer for organizations that cover expenses. Plus, it'll save you money in the long run. After a gap year, you're more likely to enter college with a goal in mind, which will prevent you from drifting through school paying pricey tuition for something you aren't interested in.

It'll Add to Your Resume

High GPAs and a lengthy list of accomplishments appeal to college admission boards and future employers, but a year of real life experience is what really impresses them. When it comes down to two applicants with similar skill sets, do you think the other has a chance when paired against someone who has volunteered in Asia, speaks some Mandarin and passionate about ESL in developing countries?

You Need a Chance to Find Yourself

The first year of college is often filled with new-found freedom that's full of risky behavior. During a gap year you have the opportunity to soul search without parental supervision or peer pressure. Especially for students who grew up with structured environments that defined social, athletic and academic roles a gap year allows for self-actualized inspiration to kick.

It's a Great Way to Give Back

Whether it's volunteering with Peace Corps or tutoring at a local elementary school, spending a gap year doing something for others provides students with a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. It can help mold young adults into caring, people-oriented individuals who look outside themselves to give back to their community. Some programs can even help students earn money or credits.

You'll Have Tons of Fun

Take risks and check items off your bucket list, from making friends with the locals in a tiny Chinese village to riding a donkey to the top of Mount Nemrut in Turkey.

It Can Lead to Better Opportunities

More often than not, jobs, internships or volunteer work done during a gap year can lead to career contacts in the future. Even traveling can steer students in the direction of better opportunities, such as knowing what language they want to study in school or disease, or a social problem they're interested in combating.


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