In recent years, more and more students have started taking gap years between high school and college. But why? Why take a gap year before starting your university coursework? That is probably just one of many questions you’re considering as you wrap up your high school experience. Fortunately, there are answers to those questions. For starters, a gap year can help you learn and appreciate a culture outside of the United States. It can better prepare you for college or boost your future employment potential. But how? What exactly is a gap year, and exactly what can taking one do for you?
What Is a Gap Year?
By the time you graduate from high school, you’ve been focusing on your formal education for so long that you’re completely burnt out, and yet most students head directly from high school to university courses. It can be healthy to take a break from school for a while to recompose yourself. However, it’s important to continue to focus on your education even if you’re not spending that time in a classroom. As a wise man once said, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”
When you take a gap year in a foreign country, you’re accomplishing two goals. First, you are giving yourself the opportunity to breathe a little before you dive headlong into university life. But it’s not just an extended vacation. A gap year provides students with the opportunity to learn in a completely different way. Instead of simply reading about other cultures and places in books, students in a gap year program learn by experiencing those cultures and places directly.
And secondly, a gap year allows students to immerse themselves in a culture that’s completely different than the one they’re used to. Gap year participants are housed with local families, and many even get jobs with local businesses and organizations to take a direct part in the culture they’re exploring. Language, networking, and a new global perspective—and these are just a few of the benefits that taking a gap year can bring.
That one-year gap can also give you the time and experience to make tough decisions, like decide what you truly want to study or what career to pursue. And that’s just the beginning. Check out these 10 gap year benefits to create a fulfilling gap year!
Why Take a Gap Year? 10 Gap Year Benefits
By choosing to take a bridge year, you’re choosing to expand your world. Here are 10 benefits of a gap year:
- Experience a different culture. A vacation allows you to see a different culture. A gap year allows you to live it. You’ll spend nine months fully immersed in a whole new world.
- Learn a new language. We live in an increasingly global society and what better way to pick up a new language — or sharpen an old one — than by immersing yourself with native speakers?
- Develop new life skills. Hone your global competency, learn about entrepreneurialism and improve your ability to communicate and adapt quickly in the face of challenges.
- Discover a hidden passion. Whether it’s photography, organic farming or international relations, a gap year can help you find dormant interests.
- Prep for college. A gap year can teach you the independence and maturity needed to make the most of college. Plus, colleges show preference to students who display commitment, passion, and perseverance to something bigger than themselves.
- Improve yourself. You’ll be working alongside local residents on projects that matter to them, but you’ll also be learning and developing your own skills in the process. Sure, you’ll be making an impact, but you’re going to gain just as much, or more, from the experience as the local community.
- Live life to the fullest. Spending a year in another country will bring adventures, stories and memories to last a lifetime. Follow along with our current Fellows in the field!
- Boost your job prospects. Participating in a gap year displays the qualities many employers look for in a prospect: courage, teamwork, curiosity, service, open-mindedness and a willingness to try something new. The grit you’ll acquire can be a cornerstone to success.
- Break down classroom walls. You’ve been sitting in classrooms for years. A gap year gets you out of a desk and into the real world, and is a great way to recharge your battery before college.
- Have fun and make lasting friendships. You’ll be an active member of a community teaming up with local professionals and networking with other Fellows. When you take a gap year, you’re joining a group of young people with aspirations and goals similar to your own.
Why take a gap year after high school? A better question is why not? Learn more about Global Citizen Year and the many gap year benefits available to you. If you’re ready to sign up, start your application here!
US News and World Report: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/11/30/community-service-work-increasingly-important-for-college-applicants
Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/06/23/want-to-help-kids-succeed-in-college-let-them-take-a-gap-year