gap-yearThousands of worn-out high school graduates have been taking a gap year for years in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, but America is slowly warming up to this trend with more seniors gearing up for college by taking a year off.

In short, gap years can be defined as time taken away from normal routines before starting university or leaping into the workforce. The idea for gap years formed with the rising need for students to ease the stressful transition into adulthood and change their mentality. Gap years are viewed as ways to get through in-between life stages while learning from important real-life experiences. Considering the fact that the average tuition price for a four-year private school is a whopping $37,800, gap years are growing in popularity for students who simply aren’t ready to join the college classroom.

What Gap Years Involve

Though some people mistakenly believe that these youthful sabbaticals involve slacking off on a beach for months, most pre- and post-university gaps involve activities that empower individuals with more independence. Most gappers spend their year traveling abroad to go backpacking, volunteer for a good cause, work on holiday visas, or all three. From teaching English to young children in South America to helping save endangered species in Africa and taking a spiritual pilgrimage through India, the options are virtually endless. You can completely customize your year-long break with adventures that’ll make you learn, grow, and enjoy life.

Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

Gap years come with numerous advantages that could not otherwise be possible. Most gappers seize the opportunity to visit foreign countries to learn profound lessons about other cultures and languages. Students acquire a full year of life experiences under their belts, which makes them more prepared for college without parental supervision and less likely to engage in risky freshman behaviors. Gap years also allow you to find your niche in life for selecting the right career goals. If you hand in a college application boasting experience volunteering in a developing country, you’ll likely impress admissions officers for an acceptance letter. Most importantly, you can discover personal freedom, learn about yourself, and emerge as a self-actualized adult in 12 months.

Top Tips for Successful Gap Years

It’s important that students understand that gap years aren’t all about fun and games. To have a successful year off and reap these benefits, you’ll need to put in at least nine months of planning first. You also simply can’t jet off to Italy for a year without raising the money reserves and crafting the tight budget to afford it. It’s essential that you do your homework by speaking to other gappers, searching for online resources, asking for advice, and meeting with travel agents. Before you leave, make sure you’ve had all of the necessary inoculations at least eight weeks in advance, received quality travel insurance coverage, and taken some language lessons.

Overall, gap years are rewarding once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for young people to gain the sense of direction and purpose they need before starting their freshman year, enrolling in graduate school, or entering the competitive workforce. As it continues growing as a legitimate way for students to learn and grow away from work or school, there are a number of certified gap year organizations to help you make this dream getaway a reality.

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