Taking a gap year before going to college

Post By: COYD Staff

In the last few years, taking a gap year between high school and college, a common practice in Europe and Australia, has been increasingly popular. Universities such as Harvard University  even  encourage their admitted students to take a gap year by including a suggestion on their acceptance letters. In 2009, 107 of the 1,665 Harvard freshmen had taken a gap year. This type  of encouragement  is not made unless there has been strong evidence of positive results that come out of taking a gap year. Many educators claim that students who take a gap year often  excel in college and become leaders  at their college campuses. Below are just a few of the potential benefits:


1. Improves interpersonal skills

Often times, high school students have only interacted with people of similar backgrounds. Public high schools are usually zoned by neighborhood so often times, students have only had the chance to interact with other students who live in the same part of town. Students that take a gap year get the opportunity to spend a year in another country or another part of town where they can learn about new cultures, new neighborhoods, and new languages. Exposure to new environments greatly improves interpersonal skills and cultural awareness.

2. Increases independence and maturity

Experiences during the gap year give the student a chance to do something that they chose to do. In school, you are forced to take the minimum amount of classes. You are pretty much forced to attend school everyday even if you don’t want to. The gap year is the opposite of that. You decide what you want to do and what you want to get out of it. When students are given that kind of ownership, maturity and independence most likely follow.

3. Clearer vision of academic and professional goals

With real-life experiences, a student is able to see where their strengths and passions lie. Without experience in the real world, it is difficult for a student to know what they want to do for the rest of their life. A gap year gives the student the opportunity to figure out where they see themselves in post-college life.

4. Saving money in college


With a clearer vision of one’s academic and professional goals, the students who have taken a gap year know what they want to major in earlier on and are more effective and efficient in their  college career. Saving money could be manifested in graduating early or utilizing the university to the fullest while they are there.

Most common gap year experiences

International volunteering
Teaching English
Living abroad

Resources to help plan your gap year
**recommended by Harvard University

Transitions Abroad
Center for Interim Programs

The Gap-Year Advantage: Taking Time Off Abroad
The UnCollege Alternative
The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things to Do Between High School and College


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply