Updated: Mar 26
Welcome to your how to guide on best practices for a gap year. Below you will find the types of gap years, reasons to take a gap year, and some popular examples of how most people tend to use their gap year. We believe that it is important to have more options after university than just entering your typical 9 to 5.
Types of Gap Years
Travel Gap Year
Traveling provides many benefits to anyone, whether a student is traveling for relaxation or on a mission trip. They can experience different cultures and compare the contrasts between their home country and the one they're visiting. This can also give them an opportunity to explore potential career choices in different geographical locations during their gap year.
Work Gap Year
At some point, every student has felt indecisive about going to college or choosing a major. While most people go straight to college after high school, taking a break and experiencing different careers can be a good idea. This can help students figure out what they want to do before committing to a college program.
Study Gap Year
Self-learning is often underrated, but it is a critical component of personal growth. Students should take as much time as they need to understand their values and interests. It's essential to learn about oneself and not just follow in their parents' footsteps.
Volunteer Gap Year
Forget traveling, studying, or working. Although these three categories are widely considered more meaningful than volunteering, students should not feel pressured to choose one of them. Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose, or students can take a break and return to college later in life.
Reasons to Take a Gap Year
Get to Know Yourself
After graduating high school, many 18 year olds don’t know exactly who they are or who they want to be in the future. As a result, spending thousands of dollars on a degree may be a waste of time and money. Additionally, graduated college students may not want to commit 40 hours a week to a mundane job they don’t find value in. By opting into a gap year, students can find themselves and learn lessons they simply cannot pick up in school without accruing tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
Determining Your Real Goals and How to Achieve Them
Spending a gap year traveling or gaining valuable life experience can help students select a college major or choose a career track that is right for them. According to Forbes, “Gap Year Association data noted that 84% of respondents to their study said their time abroad helped them learn skills that helped them become successful in their work,” (Farrington, 2019).
Gain Valuable Career Experience
Finally, a gap year can consist of more than just a fun-filled semester. Students can take advantage of study abroad opportunities and educational programs that can provide them with technical or industry-specific knowledge.
Gap Year Examples
Teach English Abroad
Immersing yourself in an exciting new culture is an amazing experience that many hope to have; however, most cannot find the time to travel abroad with school and work commitments. A gap year creates the perfect opportunity to travel and work abroad for a year.
Teaching English as a second language is a very accessible job; as long as you are simply an English speaker, you are qualified for most programs. Some programs, like the NALCAP in Spain, are organized by the Ministry of Education and are completely free to apply. Teaching programs only last for an academic year, so they fit perfectly into a gap year. Teaching English abroad is a fulfilling experience that encourages self-growth and independence in a way that is not possible through a year in college.
Rest and Rejuvenate
A gap year does not have to be an all-consuming international experience–resting and focusing on your mental health is a valid and effective use of a gap year.
Academic burnout, from high school or college, is a large reason people take gap years. Dedicating yourself to exciting hobbies that you finally have time for is a great way to learn more about your interests and rest. Painting beautiful landscapes, reading hundreds of books, or learning new languages are great ways to learn more about your interests and passions.
Gap years are an opportunity for effective rest away from school or work, so do not feel obligated to commit to responsibilities that do not feel fulfilling. Feel free to rest without imposing pressure on yourself.