Should You Take a Gap Year After College? 5 Programs To Consider

What is a gap year? Also known as a “sabbatical year,” a gap year after college refers to a planned break during which you engage in various activities to help you grow personally and/or academically.
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taking a gap year after university — my experience + what I wish I knew

Why should you take a gap year after college?

If you choose to take a gap year, there are countless opportunities available to you. When planning your activities for your gap year after college, take into account:


Spend some time traveling and exploring new nations and cities. At the conclusion of your gap year, learning about how people live in other countries can open your eyes to new perspectives and inspire you to develop cutting-edge ideas or approaches. You might even learn a foreign language and master it to the point where you can list it on your resume.

Additionally, you can use your travel time to go to a conference abroad. These opportunities not only help you develop your skills but also provide excellent material for your application essays or personal statement.


Get a part-time job

You can always use your gap year to gain experience with a part-time job to smooth the transition into a full-time career if you’re not ready to start full-time employment. You can also work a part-time job and enroll in a few classes.

Work on graduate school applications

It takes some time to apply to law school, graduate school, and medical school. You can spend more time working on your applications if you take a gap year. During a gap year, you have fewer obligations and more time to consider your time in college. This allows you to write a better personal statement. Additionally, you have more time to compile your application materials and concentrate on submitting an overall strong application.

Improve your academic credentials

If you lack the coursework needed to apply to your desired academic program, use your gap year to obtain the necessary credentials. If you want to attend medical school but didn’t major in the sciences, for instance, use your gap year to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program to complete the necessary scientific coursework.

What is a gap year?

A gap year after college, also referred to as a “sabbatical year,” is a prearranged break during which you participate in various activities to advance your academic and/or personal development. Despite the fact that gap years are typically only a year long, they can last for several years depending on your objectives and financial stability.

5 gap year programs to consider

There are many programs available if you want to take a gap year. Here are some ideas for gap year programs:

Leadership training programs

You could train to be a tour guide, for instance, and gain experience managing a group of people while enhancing your communication and problem-solving abilities. You could also work as an intern for a nearby business to gain experience in the field and develop your interpersonal or negotiating skills.

Language immersion programs

You have a fantastic opportunity to learn a new language during a gap year. By enrolling in a language immersion course, you can learn in a more organized setting.

Some programs emphasize speaking and writing, while others might emphasize cultural pursuits or volunteer opportunities. Remember that having multiple languages can give you an advantage over other job applicants and open up new doors for you.

Cultural exchange programs

Through cultural exchange programs, you can work alongside locals to learn about other cultures. Additionally, you have the chance to pick up a new language and become fully immersed in another culture.

Working outside of your comfort zone can also help you become more adaptable and open up new perspectives or ideas that you can apply to your future academic or professional endeavors. You can volunteer for a cultural exchange program, work at a school, take cultural classes, or work directly with families.

Teaching programs

Search for opportunities that provide certification and program placement when looking for teaching programs. You can also improve your skills and be better prepared for a future teaching career by enrolling in a program with practical experience.

Nature and wildlife programs

Long-term expeditions and philanthropic opportunities are a few examples of the nature and wildlife programs available. Additionally, you might be able to locate a program that trades your volunteer work or teaching for the chance to experience the great outdoors.

FAQs about taking a gap year after college

Consider the responses to the following frequently asked questions if you’re still debating whether taking a gap year after college is the right choice for you:

What are the disadvantages of taking a gap year?

While taking a gap year has many advantages, there are some drawbacks as well. A gap year can cost you a lot of money, and if you’re not used to all the free time it offers, it might be difficult to adjust and cause you to lose your academic momentum.

Additionally, it may come across as unmotivated if you don’t spend your gap year engaging in interesting activities or improving your skills. This may then prevent you from enrolling in your desired academic program or make you appear unattractive to potential employers.

What should you consider before taking a gap year?

Before deciding to take a gap year, think about the following:

Think about your objectives and what you want to accomplish in the next five years. Then, consider how a gap year could assist you in achieving these objectives.

Additionally, you must be driven to look into opportunities or programs that you can use for your gap year. For instance, you should research any necessary training or certifications if you want to teach abroad. You also need to consider where you’ll live, what documents you need to travel abroad, and whether it’s safe to travel at this time.

Consider how you’ll support yourself during this time and whether you have the resources to do so before deciding to take a gap year. A gap year may be expensive, depending on the experience you want to have.

If you’re determined to take a gap year, be flexible. Make sure you’re open to the idea of a shorter program, for instance, if you had planned to enroll in a program that would last a year but you can’t afford it financially. Assess your comfort level with implementing a backup plan in the event that your primary one fails. Being adaptable can be useful if you decide to visit another country and have to communicate with locals who have different cultures and customs.

How can you prepare for a gap year financially?

After you’ve decided how you want to spend your gap year, make a budget to see how much money you have available and how high your expenses will be realistically.

Make sure you are aware of the upfront costs before enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program if you have any intentions of doing so. Overall, setting up a budget can assist you in strategically planning your gap year.


Is it okay to take a year off after graduating college?

To be clear, taking a gap year won’t prevent you from enrolling in the program you desire. When used wisely, a gap year can increase your chances of being accepted. But it’s key that you spend the gap year properly. Admissions committees might have the wrong impression if you take a year off and do nothing.

How many students take gap years after college?

Only 3% of American students take a year off before starting college, according to a recent study by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA. However, the “gap year” has been a well-established custom in Europe and Commonwealth nations since at least the 1960s.

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