The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year for College Students

The practice of taking a gap year after graduating high school is becoming more and more popular. Instead of heading to college right away, students instead take a year off to travel — either at home or abroad — to either work, volunteer, or just see the sights.

The gap year isn’t just something that irresponsible students take to postpone the inevitable. For many students, a gap year is a carefully planned step that offers many benefits.

Here are just a few of the benefits of taking a gap year for college students:

Time to Formulate Goals

Many students have no idea what they want to do after they graduate high school. Sure, maybe they want to go to college, but they don’t know what they’d like to study, and they have even fewer ideas about what they’d like to do for a living. Some students know their path from the time they are small, but others need more time to explore their options.

A gap year gives students time and new experiences to formulate their goals. It can help them figure out what they want to do once they start college, or they can figure out that they want to forego college completely in favor of something else.

Second Chance at College Application

Some students don’t go to college right after high school because they don’t get in to a school. However, many find that their chances are better on the second time around. Students who take a gap year can get a second chance to strengthen their college application and resubmit it for the following fall.

Students who take a gap year should spend that time taking the necessary steps to strengthen their application, such as getting better letters of recommendation, writing a better statement of purpose, or improving test scores.

Get Experience

Of course, one of the best benefits of a gap year is the experience that students can gain through their work or volunteer activities. This valuable experience can strengthen their college applications, lead to useful networking connections, help them to define career goals, or even help them to become more competitive for scholarships.

Save for Tuition

Students who choose to work during their gap year can save the money they earn to pay for tuition and reduce their overall debt burden. It is unlikely that students will earn enough in that year to pay for all of their college expenses — unless they have a high-paying job or are attending a low-cost college — but they may be able to earn enough to pay for the first year and to get a significant head start on their expenses.

Have Fun

One of the best benefits of taking a gap year is simply to have fun before starting the serious business of starting a college education and a career. Many students who take a gap year spend it traveling overseas, doing things like backpacking through Europe or volunteering in Africa. Students who take a gap year should take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a big adventure before they commit to their responsibilities.

Taking a gap year offers many benefits for students, and many employers are beginning to recognize the value of the gap year. As recent graduates continue to struggle to find work, it may be wise for more students getting ready to start college to consider a gap year instead and explore their options before formulating their college plans.

Did you take a gap year after high school? Tell us what benefits you think it had in the comments!

*Author’s Bio: Sarah Clare is a writer and oversees the site, where she has recently been researching online project management tools. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking and scrapbooking.

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