Thanks to the Gap Year Association, we are better able to understand the benefits of gap time for young people. Based on recent surveys, here are some of the reported benefits of students who took a Gap Year.
Independence & Self Reliance
Planning, budgeting and executing a Gap Year offers excellent opportunities for your child to gain good decision-making skills while navigating the real world challenges associated with travel and independent living. Whether they are traveling independently or studying under the guidance of a structured program, your child will arrive back from a Gap Year with confidence and maturity.
“I have never been so independent in my life. I had barely even traveled before going all the way to Southeast Asia by myself, but I learned just how independent and competent I could be on my own, which was a really cool feeling.” Charlotte ’14
Thirst for Knowledge
Gap Year programs and opportunities are designed to pique the interest of young minds, allowing them to apply skills and knowledge in unique settings. For students who don’t typically thrive in the classroom, learning experientially on a Gap Year can mean the difference between a meaningful college experience and dropping out. For overachievers, a break from a competitive school environment can renew a love of learning.
“I realized that care a lot more about education than I thought. While I don’t necessarily want to be a teacher, I am interested in learning more about the education system and policy. I might even want to go to law school, and that is certainly something that I didn’t consider before the gap year.” – Margot ’17
Higher Quality College Experience
Data from Middlebury College and UNC Chapel Hill show us that Gap Year students not only perform better academically compared to traditional students, but they also excel socially. Gap Year students tend to be more engaged in campus life and often take on leadership roles.
“I learned that I’m capable of doing a lot more than I think: whether that’s physically, like climbing a vertical mountain, or in the future, such as making a change in the world. I think I’m so much more motivated to start college now.” – Nora ’15
Development of Soft Skills
Gap Year students are reported to display exceptional creative problem solving, communication, cross-cultural understanding, and leadership skills. These attributes are increasingly sought after in the modern workforce and give job seekers an advantage.
“I not only learned about my place in the world, but I gained more confidence in everything I do. I learned what it means to be myself surrounded by love and support and I learned what I want to do in late life, or at least what I’m aiming for. I have such a global perspective now and I never fail to remember how lucky I am to be doing something, which makes it all that more special.” – Mary ’16
As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” As the world grows increasingly smaller, it is becoming more and more important to appreciate the distinct languages and cultures that make our planet so wonderfully diverse. Gap Year opportunities often include cultural immersion techniques such as homestays, language training and youth partnerships in order to take advantage of traveling in a foreign country.
“I found a new level of maturity and passion for the world on my gap year. I came home and immediately gave away about 1/3 of my belongings after being overwhelmed with my privilege and my unnecessary clutter. I am more organized and more excited about college and learning now than ever.” -Eva, ’17
Cooking over a makaa stove. Recognizing Sicilian Baroque architecture. Tranquilizing African lions for radio collaring. These are all abilities one could acquire while on their Gap Year. Some are essential for future professions, others simply remarkable, but all increase the depth of one’s character and suggest an intimate relationship with a diversity of ideas and cultures.
Young people mature at different rates, but a Gap Year tends to expedite the process. Experiences that encourage personal ownership and the development of one’s values allow gappers to fledge and grow. Gap Year students return from their year as better problem solvers and decision makers, which are essential skills for college or career.