Gap Year: What is a gap year?
People often ask, “What is a gap year?” It’s a great question. A gap year is a period of time that an individual takes off, usually between high school and college, to do something constructive like travel, work, adventure, volunteer, or study.
Gap years help people to make a smoother transition from one stage of their life to the next by letting them venture into the real world to work, live, and play for an extended period of time. It’s a genius idea, which is why gap years are a growing trend in the United States – even President Obama’s daughter, Malia, decided to take a gap year before attending Harvard. Thousands of others are following in her footsteps.
A gap year is the perfect opportunity for a young person to truly experience life. On a gap year you do anything, go anywhere, and stay for however long you desire. It’s your time and you get to responsibly define how you are going to use it to your advantage.
The world of gap years is gaining in popularity. Many colleges and universities readily accept students who are keen to defer their acceptance for a year. These higher education institutions see gap years as a way for students to be more prepared for life and university.
The most challenging thing about gap years is deciding how to spend your time? Imagine spending a gap year…
- Backpacking through Southeast Asia
- Climbing remote mountain peaks on a wilderness leadership course in Alaska
- Learning a language in a cultural immersion course in rural Italy
- Finding an internship on Wall Street
- Volunteering at a medical clinic in Mexico
- Traveling through Europe
- Working at a resort on the white sand beaches of the Bahamas
- Learning to code so that you will always be employable
- Starting a blog so you can someday work from anywhere
- Working at a hostel in Buenos Aires
- Pursuing your passion for rock climbing
- Saving an endangered species in Madagascar
- Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
- Biking across the United States
- Working on an organic farm in Australia
The options are literally endless. Devote your gap year to any of these things or brainstorm something new and incredible. Better yet, mix and match activities to create the most productive and exciting year ever. In your gap year, you get to choose your own adventure.
Gap years are essentially a milestone in the process of growing up. It’s the first time that many individuals go out and face the real world on their own. This can be challenging, but at the same time eye opening. It’s an opportunity to build confidence and push comfort zones. Use your time wisely and you’ll have a year filled with amazing adventures and incredible stories.
People who go on gap years are typically more independent, responsible, financially savvy, culturally aware, and are happier all around. By capitalizing on a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the world they usually become more well-rounded individuals who have developed both socially and personally. Plus they have built skills and experiences that will help them find jobs, network, and save money. A gap year will shape and mold these lucky folks into the successful people that they want to ultimately become.
There are many formal gap year programs that organize gap years for individuals both internationally and domestically. Alternatively you can create your own gap year. There are no real rules as long as you use your time wisely and constructively. After a year of exploring and experiencing the world, you’ll truly appreciate what the world can offer you.
One of the biggest benefits of taking a gap year is that you’ll be able find your direction in life. Gap years are an opportunity to try new things and see new places. Maybe you’ll have a finance internship in London, work at a ski resort in New Zealand, or volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center in British Columbia. You may love or hate these things. Either way, these experiences can help you fine tune your direction in life so that you can ultimately find the right path for you.
Take a gap year. Go explore and experience everything that the world has to offer.