Why You Should Take a Gap Year

Carolina Jacobs

Feb 18, 2023

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Let’s face it: High school can be a busy and stressful time. You’re juggling a full load of classes, participating in sports and clubs, and preparing for the pomp and circumstance of graduation. On top of that, you’re filling out college applications galore and worrying that you might not be accepted into your favorite. Life is a lot more complicated than “High School Musical” would have you believe.

There is an alternative to taking a last summer hurrah before diving into the world of higher education. Here are some great reasons why you should take a gap year before going to college.

What Is a Gap Year?

A gap year is spent after high school graduation and before attending college. It’s a period of experiential learning meant to deepen your personal, professional, and practical awareness, according to the Gap Year Association. In other words, you will not be spending a year lounging around the house or partying with friends. It’s a time for enriching yourself so you’re better prepared for higher education and what comes after it.

4 Reasons to Take a Gap Year

There are myriad reasons why you should take a gap year. Here are some things you can do with your time that will add to your life and make you more appealing to future employers.

  1. Add to Your Resume

Sure, it’s impressive that you were the editor of your high school yearbook or excelled in basketball all four years. However, there are lots more opportunities in the world that will make you look even better to recruiters and employers. 

Consider taking an internship to gain valuable abilities in your area of interest. You will gain practical experience, develop soft skills, and get professional feedback on your performance. Some schools will even give you credits for time spent interning.

Volunteering is another viable option. You can help out close to home or explore opportunities all over the world. Programs can be found in exotic locales like Fiji, South Africa, and Peru. You can make a difference while broadening your horizons and skills. 

  1. Earn Global Citizenship

This time in your life is ideal for traveling, experiencing different cultures, and learning more about world history. It’s much better to marvel at the Great Pyramid of Giza in person rather than online. Exploring other countries helps you appreciate the past and enjoy the present, which are ideal reasons why you should take a gap year.

Traveling opens your eyes to other religions, ways of life, and people. You will make many new friends, earn a sense of independence, and learn how to spend your money wisely. You will also more easily learn another language by immersing yourself in a foreign culture, which is appealing to many employers.

Plus, you will enjoy the freedom of a nomadic lifestyle before returning to the classroom with a fresh perspective.

  1. Make Money

Perhaps you don’t have the funds to attend college right away. You can take a job in your field of interest during your gap year to earn and save money and add to your resume. If you’re living at home, you will probably rack up an impressive amount during that time.

Working and saving toward a goal will increase your financial savvy and help you develop a budget. You will track your monthly expenses, find ways to save money, and manage your checking and savings accounts. These are invaluable life skills that will benefit you well into the future.

You can also determine what sorts of jobs and career tracks most appeal to you. You may find yourself changing your major if what you were formerly interested in does not seem like a good fit.

  1. Avoid Academic Burnout

School can tax your brain. You’ve spent the past 12 or more years in school, completing countless projects, taking hundreds of tests, and reading until your eyeballs were ready to melt. It’s a lot, even for the most gifted students, which is why you should take a gap year.

For some people, a summer of recovery is not enough. Academic burnout can lead to changes in sleep and eating patterns, withdrawal from friends and family, and difficulty concentrating. The thought of starting all over at a new school for several more years can be overwhelming for some.

It’s OK to take care of yourself and attend to your mental health. After all, you have your whole life in front of you, and you need to be ready for whatever comes your way.

Why You Should Take a Gap Year and Focus on Yourself

Taking a gap year is not about checking out. It’s about checking in with yourself, discovering who you are, and developing skills that will help you succeed. It’s the ultimate investment in your future and is time well spent.

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