What is a Gap Year?
Some think of it as vacation 🏖 or time off to spend with friends and family, while others say it’s a time for you to save money 💰 for college or to volunteer in programs abroad towards humanitarian or educational causes. Ask different people, and you’ll receive a variety of responses.
There is no one way to define a gap year and what you must do during this time. Instead, a gap year is an opportunity to do what’s best for you. While it can be stereotyped as a waste of time, research shows students who take a gap year between high school and college perform better in college. Gap years are a fantastic opportunity to gain experience, recover from academic burnout 🥵, help your family, or contribute to a cause about which you are passionate.
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What to Do During a Gap Year
There are many different paths you can choose for your gap year, whether it be an individually guided experience or an organized program. There are many organized gap year programs online, and you can reach out to your future schools to see if they offer any gap year opportunities.
Tip: The COVID-19 pandemic 🦠 shouldn’t alter your plans to take time away from schpol; there are excellent virtual 🖥 opportunities out there! Many students chose to take a gap year because of the pandemic in hopes of experiencing a more traditional school experience next year.
Benefits of a Gap Year
There are so many potential benefits to a gap year ranging from personal to social to academic! Learn more about if college is right for you
Increased self-awareness, self-confidence, maturity, and independence, in addition to greater ownership of education and increased happiness.
Check out this video on more ways to take control of your academic growth
Gaining valuable life experience, first-hand knowledge of the world, global 🌍 awareness, and core skills such as communication.
Setting goals before starting a gap year and breaking them into milestones can help you maximize these benefits. You will learn first-hand how to manage your time best and make the most of your day-to-day life.
Drawbacks of a Gap Year
Like with any decision, there are potential disadvantages to choosing to take a gap year 📝 and you should evaluate their relevance to your circumstances.
Taking a gap year places the responsibility of your growth and learning in your hands —you are going to have to make big decisions, and as with any new experience, you will probably make some mistakes along the way.
The Verdict 👩⚖️
So should you take a gap year? We can’t give you that answer—this is a huge life decision that you have to make for yourself. To decide whether a gap year is right for you, reflect on your life right now and your goals for the future. Consider the benefits and the disadvantages, and don’t be scared to go a different direction than what everyone around you is doing.
How Do You Take a Gap Year?
If you decide to take a gap year, you have a couple of options for how to proceed.
1. Postpone College Applications: You can apply to colleges during your gap year rather than during your senior year.
2. Defer College Admission: You can apply to colleges during senior year and then request a deferral, a postponement of the start of your freshman year. Colleges and universities are increasingly amenable to the idea of gap year, since they also recognize its benefits. Some schools even offer their own gap year programs! Others, like Harvard, even encourage students upon acceptance to take a gap year.
Note: Many schools will grant a year-long deferral but not a deferral for a shorter amount of time. Be sure to research your school’s policy before planning your gap year.
How Do I Defer College Acceptance?