Four years of schooling, whether it’s high school or undergraduate, can leave students feeling burned out. An often unconsidered solution to this common problem is to take a gap year. Although gap years are already popular around the world, they have yet to catch on here in the United States. Many have the misconception that taking a gap year is a “waste of time,” but the reality is that a gap year can be one of the most valuable experiences for a student.
What is a gap year? You may be unsure as to what a gap year is. The term “gap year” is used to describe a period of time taken by students to travel and gain new experiences. A gap year doesn’t necessarily have to last for 12 months, and your time can be spent in a variety of ways: travelling, volunteering, working, language study, homestay, community service, or cultural immersion.
So, when can a student take a gap year? The idea sounds intriguing, right? Gap years are often taken after high school or following your undergraduate degree, but there are no rules. It doesn’t really matter when you decide to take your gap year, as long as you’re taking a long-deserved break from studying or working.
OK, who is qualified to take a gap year? The simple answer is anyone. There are no qualifications for taking a gap year, except a keen interest for learning more about the world.
Where to go? Since there’s so much of the world to see, where you take your gap year can be a difficult decision. Your gap year is the time to travel to the countries you’ve always dreamed of, but never had the time for. Because a gap year is so flexible, you will find opportunities for whatever you’re interested in. Popular destinations for gap years include Australia, Canada, India, Peru, and Japan – but again, it’s completely up to you!
Why take a gap year? Not convinced yet? Let’s talk about the main reasons why you should take a gap year.
- Freedom. Before getting strapped down into the constraints of a job or more schooling, you can take the time to make your own decisions and choices.
- Knowledge. While you’re learning about the world, you will also be learning about yourself and the kind of person you want to be.
- Experience. Going abroad gives you experiences that you will never gain at home. These experiences will help you stand out in applications, for undergraduate, graduate, and jobs.
- Convenience. If you’re planning to take a gap year after high school, consider that many top colleges are encouraging the experience by allowing deferred admission. Some examples include: New York University, Princeton University, and Harvard University. Research whether your college of choice gives you this option.
How to take a gap year? You’re probably wondering how you can take the first step towards taking a gap year abroad. The important thing is to have a plan of what you want your gap year to look like. Students can either decide to take your gap year independently or through one of the many organizations that provide gap year programs. Make sure you understand both options and which one matches up with your needs most. Your gap year is all about you – embrace it.
Palwasha Khatri is a travel and film enthusiast pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Palwasha currently works for the Intern Abroad team at Go Overseas, the best place online to find listings and reviews of intern abroad, teach abroad, study abroad, and volunteer abroad programs.