As a prospective college student you may be asking yourself the following questions: Should I take a gap year? What does taking a gap year mean? How do I take a gap year? How does a gap year work? Or maybe you already know the answers to these questions.
Maybe you are actively planning your gap year and are curious about gap year programs abroad, gap year programs in the U.S., gap year programs that pay, and other gap year ideas.
Regardless of where you are in your planning process, in this article, we will provide you with the resources you need to help you on your journey!
Reasons to take a gap year
Many high school seniors don’t know what they want to study, never mind what their career goals are. And all of the students who’ve already made up their minds? Most of them will end up changing majors, transferring colleges, or taking time off from school throughout their college careers.
There are lots of reasons to pursue gap year programs after high school, but perhaps most importantly, taking a gap year will give you more time to engage in self-discovery and reflect thoughtfully and critically on your goals for the future.
That said, let’s take a look at some common reasons students choose to take a gap year:
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Still, other students may choose to use a gap year to pursue internships or gain work experience. Not only will these opportunities grant students insight into their prospective careers, but they will also increase their overall maturity.
Taking a gap year may even help distinguish students from other college applicants, especially if they are interested in applying to highly-selective schools, such as Ivy League colleges. This is because passion, initiative, and meaningful engagement with one’s interests are key factors in what college admissions officers look for in an applicant.
It’s also important to realize, however, that you can take a gap year after being accepted into college. In fact, schools such as Harvard and MIT encourage students to take gap years, allowing admitted students to defer their enrollment for a year in order to do so. There are even schools — such as Princeton — that provide university-sponsored gap year programs.
When to take a gap year
There are many different types of gap years. Most students are interested in gap year ideas before college. That said, you can take a gap year during college as well.
Sometimes college students wish they had given themselves more time to figure out what they really want to do. These students may choose to take time off from school to refocus during a gap year. Similarly, for students wondering: Can I take a gap year before transferring? The answer is yes!
The main objective of a gap year is to give yourself time to discover your true goals and passions before engaging in more school. So again, for students wondering: Can I take a gap year during college? Of course, you can.
The most important thing about pursuing a productive gap year is to have a plan. This takes us to our next point: What are the different types of gap years?
Different types of gap years
A gap year can provide you with endless opportunities for growth and self-discovery. That said, the primary limitations are your budget and your imagination.
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One of the most important things to decide when planning your gap year is whether to engage in a structured program or whether to independently design your gap year. Some students crave freedom and autonomy during their gap year. Other students want a bit more structure.
Regardless of your decision, a productive gap year requires a plan, motivation, and focus. If you don’t have all of these things, your gap year won’t feel very meaningful. That said, neither structure is right or wrong. It all depends on your strengths, weaknesses, and overall goals.
Are you wondering: why should I take a gap year? or Is it good to take a gap year before college?
If so, read on! Here are some popular reasons why students decide to take off time from school.
A passion or desire for:
- Work experience
- Language learning
- Developing a skill
Taking a gap year pros and cons
Should I take a gap year before college? Review these pros and cons of taking a gap year to help you better decide if a gap year is the right choice for you.
Pros of taking a gap year
There are lots of pros to engaging in a gap year — either independently or as a part of a structured program. Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits:
Cons of taking a gap year
Gap years are not for everyone and there are several cons to taking a gap year. In this section, we will review some of these cons.
Popular gap year programs
The above links offer a wealth of resources and opportunities as you plan your gap year. You may be interested in living and working abroad as an au pair (someone who provides childcare) while you learn a new language. Maybe you want to volunteer abroad through the Peace Corps or volunteer domestically through Americorps. Maybe you’re interested in agriculture and are interested in WWOOFing or have always wanted to spend time living at sea (Seamester).
Still, other students will want to spend their gap years pursuing job opportunities, internships, or perhaps trying their hand at freelancing, tutoring, or teaching English abroad. Whatever the case, know that there are lots of opportunities available to you!
Key takeaways and moving forward
There are endless reasons for deciding to take a gap year. Just as there are endless gap year ideas. To get the most out of your gap year, however, you will need to have a plan and some amount of structure. Everyone is different. This is why it is important to take the time to reflect critically and thoughtfully on how you can design a gap year that will work for you. If you are serious about embarking on a gap year, you may want to explore The Gap Year Association and its different resources. If you feel like you could benefit from professional guidance, reach out to learn more about our services.