7 Reasons Why Taking a Gap Year Is a Good Idea

Classrooms Team

Nov 4, 2022

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People typically take gap years before or after college, but they can also be taken at other periods in life. They offer the chance to take time away from academics and explore the world — and job market — while providing a mountain of skills and experiences. As of 2017, more than 35% of students are considering a gap year after high school, and the numbers are rising.

Keep reading to discover seven reasons why taking a gap year is a good idea before entering the next chapter of your life.

1. Increase Self-Confidence

Taking a gap year does a lot for your self-confidence, as you suddenly find yourself outside of the academic bubble, free to explore new things. In navigating these new dynamics, your self-confidence will increase, and you’ll believe in your ability to achieve your goals.

Self-confidence prepares you for handling challenges with conviction. The fear of setback won’t cripple you — instead, you’ll be ready to make the most of your college experience.

2. Improve Academic Performance

It’s hardly surprising that interest in taking a gap year is continuing to grow. Research shows that 90% of students who leave return to academic studies within a year. They also experience a significant positive impact on academic performance.

This is most likely because they have a chance to rest and enjoy life before returning to school or work. By taking this break, they are avoiding burnout. Burnout occurs when an individual experiences emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion due to prolonged stress.

According to the National College Health Assessment, two-thirds of college students have reported feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or anxious at some point during their year. This highlights the need for a mental outlet, and taking a gap year offers a way to unwind and return feeling rejuvenated.

3. Learn New Skills

Taking a gap year provides you with the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill — as well as learning from and helping others. If you decide to travel or volunteer abroad, you’ll enjoy the chance to learn a new language from native speakers. Some languages, like Spanish, French, and Dutch, require only 600 hours of study to reach proficiency — so you could quickly become fluent.

Use the occasion to pursue activities that interest you or to help people in need internationally. You can learn hands-on skills like woodworking, cooking, and scuba diving and create memories that will last a lifetime.

4. Gain Valuable Experience

Soft skills are extremely valuable to employers, and you’ll have a chance to put yours to practice during your gap year. This will make you a standout candidate during future hiring processes, and you’ll be able to expand on how you put those skills to use in the real world.

Skills you can gain by taking a gap year include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Time management
  • Work ethic

Aquire these skills naturally as you navigate your year away and reinforce them by participating in programs and internships.

5. Develop Your Knowledge of the World

Whether you choose to spend your gap year working in the town next door or traveling to another country, you’ll gain an understanding of how the world operates. You’ll also likely have your first taste of balancing time and money without parents or teachers around for support. A gap year ultimately delivers an opportunity for you to cultivate independence and maturity.

Learn about different cultures and consider ideas outside of what you’ve grown up with during the experience. Your eyes will be opened to the way people live in other parts of the world. Perhaps, you’ll even consider a study abroad program while in college or pursue a career in international studies.

6. Discover Your Passions

It’s challenging to find your passions while finishing high school and preparing for college. You can try job shadowing and reading online reports, but nothing compares to real experience. Instead of starting school as an undecided major — or worse, guessing — try taking a gap year. Why would you choose to spend thousands of dollars in school, pursuing a degree that may not be the right fit?

Your passions are central to who you are as a person, which is why it’s essential to recognize what sets your soul on fire and turn it into a lucrative career.

Taking a gap year means you can save money — or make some — while figuring it all out.

7. Give Back to the Community

People do all sorts of things when taking a gap year. Some choose to travel, work, or pursue internships, while others volunteer. Volunteering during your break can be a great way to give back to the community.

Those who opt for a gap year to improve their well-being will find volunteering beneficial to their overall mood. That’s because volunteer work releases serotonin and dopamine that protects your mental health and makes you feel happier.

You’ll have a chance to work on personal development while positively impacting the people you meet and the world around you. Many volunteer organizations have international programs, so you can still travel to new places and experience unique cultures.

Taking a Gap Year Could Be Your Best Decision Yet

Only 27% of college graduates have a job that relates to their major. Why rush into college, or a new job, when you can carve out time to discover your purpose, place, and passions? These seven reasons describe how taking a gap year could be the best decision of your life. After deepening your personal, professional, and practical understanding of the world, you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready for the next chapter.

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