The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year After High School

What is a gap year? According to the Gap Year Association, a gap year is a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.

When Malia Obama announced after graduating from high school that she would be taking a year off before beginning college, the phrase “gap year” became popular in America. She interned at a movie production company during her “gap year” and will now begin attending Harvard in the fall of 2017.

Taking a ‘Gap Year’ Before College: Pros and Cons

Who should take a gap year after high school?

Anyone who does so in accordance with their individual goals can profit from taking a gap year. For students who are unsure of their college major or career path, they are especially helpful. Students who have always lived with their parents or have only been exposed to their home country’s culture can also profit from spending a gap year abroad to gain independence skills and broaden their worldview.

If a person is certain of what they want to study or the kind of career they want to pursue, they might want to enroll right away in college or the workforce. Taking a year off between high school and your chosen post-secondary endeavor can benefit your academic, professional, and personal development even if you already know what you want to do. In order to devote time to experiential learning and start their undergraduate degree with the skills they need to get the most out of their education, students frequently ask colleges to postpone their acceptance by a year.

15 life-changing benefits of taking a gap year after high school

Consider what you can gain from your time off before deciding whether to take a gap year and, if so, what kind of program to enroll in. Your life can be enriched in a variety of ways by time spent in a new setting and by devoting a few weeks or months to a cause. The following are some of the top advantages of taking a gap year after high school graduation:

1. Becoming more self-aware

The best way to figure out what you want to do with your life after high school is during your gap year. It’s normal to be undecided or conflicted about the major or career you want to pursue, and taking some time off to decide is a great way to figure out your values and goals as an individual. Your gap year will expose you to new situations and test your priorities, allowing you to either confirm your post-high school course of action or choose to pursue something entirely different.

2. Seeing the world from other perspectives

Many students spend their time in high school making decisions based on what they have learned from their interactions with family and friends. You can explore options for your life that you might not have even been aware of by taking a gap year. Your gap year will introduce you to unusual lifestyles and methods for realizing your potential. Understanding other worldviews and lifestyles can strengthen your relationships with others and make you happier with your own decisions, even if you decide to pursue a conventional career path or education after your gap year.

3. Experiencing other cultures

You can have lifetime-valuable experiences by fully immersing yourself in a new culture. Learning first-hand about other people’s traditions, values, religions, and customs can make you more tolerant of other people and more appreciative of your own culture. You’ll be able to celebrate cultural occasions with people who are a part of that culture and want to share it with you if you spend your gap year in a new location. Being a visitor and interacting with a new culture teaches you to be respectful, engage in critical thought, and communicate with others despite cultural differences.

4. Learning how to overcome challenges

Many people’s first chance to live independently and handle problems on their own comes during a gap year. Instead of entering the highly structured environment of college right away, gap year students opt for an adaptable, unpredictable, and flexible path of adventure. A gap year gives you the chance to experiment, fail, and learn how to overcome obstacles on your own. This can equip you with the knowledge necessary to solve challenging issues and increase your fortitude, tenacity, and resilience in the face of difficulties in the future.

5. Building lasting friendships

Many gap year programs group you with other students who are undertaking the same adventure. Organizations for gap years can help you meet fun-loving peers and hospitable hosts who can support you. Making friends who share your interests and goals through your gap year class and other people you meet during your program can last a lifetime. Strong bonds that last long after you return home can develop as a result of engaging in novel, thrilling, and sometimes terrifying experiences with new people.

6. Getting better at socializing

Taking a gap year can help you improve your social skills and make it easier for you to interact with people if you are shy and introverted. You’ll have many opportunities to meet new people and are urged to form connections because gap years are meant to push you outside of your comfort zone. With enhanced social skills and useful resources for forming enduring relationships with others, you can successfully transition into college or the workplace.

7. Networking with professionals worldwide

Programs for gap years can help you find opportunities for mentorship, work experience, and internships in a variety of fields. You can connect with knowledgeable experts in a variety of fields to begin expanding your professional network. During your gap year, you can network with professionals to find employment or get helpful advice on the steps to take to achieve your ideal career and lifestyle.

8. Caring for yourself holistically

Gap years encourage participants to establish a healthy relationship with their physical, mental, emotional, and social needs rather than just concentrating on their academic or professional development. You can learn how to be mindful of your emotions, create healthy physical habits, and find ways to balance your priorities in order to be happy and satisfied. Students who had previously been solely concerned with their education will learn how to take care of their mind, body, and spirit by taking the time to experience novel things without being under pressure from others.

9. Creating inner confidence

10. Maturing mentally and emotionally

You can mature significantly during a gap year because it gives you the chance to live away from your family and do more things for yourself. You can learn fundamental life skills like budgeting, time management, scheduling, and housekeeping. Away from your school, friends, and family, having to make your own decisions can help you learn to control your emotions, think logically, and develop responsibility. Situations that may have previously overwhelmed you will become less stressful and easier to handle after experiencing the world from a fresh perspective during your gap year.

11. Relaxing to recharge

It’s common to experience mental fatigue and burnout following high school graduation due to a lifetime of schoolwork. Instead of starting another significant educational commitment right away, think about taking a gap year to unwind, explore, and try new things. Even though many people work during their gap year, taking some time off from full-time formal education can still leave you feeling mentally renewed. Your gap year may even rekindle your passion for academics because time away from your routine can help you realize what you value about it.

12. Making unique memories

You can create cherished memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life during your gap year. You’ll undoubtedly encounter once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as you explore new locales, try out novel activities, and engage with diverse cultures. This can include going to a cultural festival or viewing one of the world’s natural wonders. The little things that make your trip special can inspire and motivate you by illuminating the special and memorable aspects of life. Your experiences during your gap year may inspire adventure tales that you can tell your friends, family, and future children.

13. Helping others

During your gap year, volunteering can give you a tremendous sense of fulfillment and purpose. Through gap year programs, you can meet people who are in need and directly improve their quality of life. For many people, helping others is incredibly rewarding and gives them a useful way to put their skills to use. Having the ability to uplift and support others can boost your self-esteem and inspire you to volunteer in your own neighborhood.

14. Starting your career

Programs for gap years can assist in placing you in settings where you can learn about career paths and develop practical skills. Your gap year’s volunteer, internship, or employment experience can help you start building your resume and position you as a competitive professional applicant. Your gap year is a great opportunity to start developing your portfolio of work if you want to pursue a career in the arts and use it to find clients or employers.

15. Finding new hobbies

You have the chance to try out new things during planned trips to cultural landmarks and natural areas during your gap year. In your gap year program, you can spend your free time concentrating on activities like creating art, learning outdoor skills, and cooking exotic foods. You can find your next passion or a new way to unwind and have fun by trying out various activities.


What percentage of students are taking gap years after high school?

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.

Is it hard to get into college after taking a year off?

Don’t let anyone tell you that taking a gap year will harm your chances of getting into college; it’s a great opportunity. As long as you communicate, organize, work toward your goals, and stay on top of your deadlines and obligations, applying to college after a year off is not terrifying.

What is it called when you take a year off between high school and college?

A student who takes a year off from school between high school and college or between an undergraduate university and graduate school is said to be taking a “gap year.”

What is the best age to take a gap year?

The Best Age To Take An Adult Gap Year & Where You Should Go However, if you’re in your 20s and considering a significant trip, new research indicates you might be better off delaying for another ten years. A survey of 2,000 Britons found that the ideal age to travel the world and take an adult gap year is 37.

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