Now, more than ever people around the world are thinking about taking gap years. In countries like Australia, the UK and New Zealand, taking a gap year is a right of passage. But in other places like the US, the concept of a gap year is often misunderstood and just starting to gain popularity.
For those who are still wondering what a gap year actually is, you’re in luck. A gap year is a period of time, typically before or after university where a person takes time off to learn and spend time doing activities like traveling the world, volunteering, gaining work experience or all of the above.
Basically, it’s a break from the status quo that gives you time to live how you want, gain perspective and flourish in personal growth. So, if you’re in limbo, here are 10 reasons why you should consider taking a gap year. I mean, if it’s good enough for Malia Obama…
10. You’ll avoid burnout
Need a break from it all? Whether you’re in school or working, burnout is real. For those in school, you probably don’t remember a time you weren’t in school. For the workers, you’ve probably had little time to breathe in between graduating and your career. We all experience burnout at one point or another but being on the constant go only accelerates it. And sometimes the only way to avoid burn out is a time out. Taking a gap year is a perfect way to hit the reset button and escape constant demands from work or school. It is a year to spend some time doing and finding the things you truly love.
9. You’ll make new friends
Making friends in a non-educational or non-professional setting is the best way to create lifelong friendships. One of the best things about taking a gap year is getting the chance to travel and meet people from all over the world. Who can pass up the opportunity to have an international friend group? Meeting new people and swapping stories and life experiences is guaranteed to expand your own perspective and have you build a network of people worldwide. So when you can’t sleep you’ll always have a BFF to text in a different timezone and when your flight gets delayed you’ll have a friendly place to stay.
8. You could learn a new skill
A year is long enough to move to a different country, teach yourself an entirely new language, or learn a completely new skill set. Maybe there’s a cuisine you’ve always wanted to master, or you are finally getting around to those surfing lessons. Either way, learning a new skill is something that will stay with you for life, and taking a gap year gives you the extra time and freedom to pick up some new talents.
7. You’ll become more resilient
Gap years give you the chance to explore and experiment. And sometimes getting outside of your strict routine and schedule means getting outside of your comfort zone and experiencing some challenging moments. Like having to ask for directions in a language you haven’t quite mastered or finding out the company you are interning for won’t have AC all summer. Your gap year could mean a huge shift in your adaptability, you’ll learn how to go with the flow and problem solve.
6. You’ll boost your resume
While a gap year may seem like a break in your resume, on the contrary friends the gap year is the ultimate resume booster. That’s because traveling abroad, learning a new language or skill, gaining internship or industry experience are all super impressive to job interviewers and college admins. Gap years are known to give highly transferable soft skills that will make your resume and application in the workplace or university stand out against other candidates. Being able to discuss what you learned on your gap year, and how it influenced you as a person will be sure to impress your employer.
Research shows those who take a gap year are often described as self-reliant and easy to work with, plus these experiences are great conversation starters (say goodbye to that awkward silence). Alongside adaptability, cultural awareness and a ‘global attitude’ are becoming more and more essential in job candidates.
5. You'll discover the real purpose of travel
Yes, we could all use a few weeks to sip cocktails and lay on the beach in Mexico but after a while, even that could get dull. There is vacationing and then there is traveling with purpose. Gap years are all about traveling and experiencing the true vibe and meaning of a place and the people.
4. It will help you decide what you want to do next
Often, students and yuppies don’t want to take time off because we worry it’ll put us “behind” our friends and peers. But that is rarely the case, taking a gap year to travel, volunteer, work, or pursue a special project can help you determine your true goals before you dive right into college or take the next step in your career. The Gap Year Association said 77% of respondents said their gap year helped them find their purpose in life, 73% said it helped them prepare for college, and 75% said it helped them get a job.
So, if you are hesitant about what major/subject to study or what career path to continue on, it is ok. Taking a gap year can provide you with extra clarity on what you actually want to do next.
3. You'll realize you have more options than you thought
If you felt trapped in ‘the system’ at school or corporate ladder, you certainly won’t feel like that post-gap year. On your travels, you’ll likely meet people from your home country who moved abroad and pursued their dreams. And you may even find other possibilities that you didn’t think of. So often, we think of our lives as a list and we start to cross off to-dos but gap years often show what is on the list isn’t’ the only option. Many people move abroad in their youth or pursue a career rather than a degree. Your gap year will remind you that nothing has to happen at a certain time; you can do whatever you’d like so long as you have the energy to get out there and make it happen.
2. You'll perform better academically
You’ll be able to incorporate your year abroad, internships, and passion projects into your studies, be it contributing to a class discussion or having inspiration overload for your term papers. Studies of gappers have shown that those who take a gap year actually get higher grades compared to their peers who did not. Not only has it been shown to increase your GPA, it also increases maturity and self-confidence both of which serve you well at university or higher education. A nice bonus is having spent a year learning different activities could also spur you to get involved with extracurriculars on campus and have a better experience overall.
1. You'll change the way you think
Arguably, the most important thing you can gain from taking a gap year is a greater understanding and appreciation for the world we live in. Recent studies from the Gap Year Association showed 94% of gappers said their time spent abroad helped them learn to communicate with people from different backgrounds. More so, 93% report an increased interest in people from around the world, and 90% said they have a better understanding and respect for cultures different from their own.
Our world is constantly changing and quickly. One of the best things we can all do is learn how we exist within it and how to continue to grow and learn. You can watch Netflix documentaries or absorb the knowledge of professors but experiencing different countries and places first-hand enriches our own lives and those of our communities. You won’t just travel to visit a country, you’ll live it and learn from it.