Skip to main content


18 Oct, 2019   |   

Benefits of a Gap Year According to Harvard

The 383-year-old Ivy League institution of Harvard has enrolled some of the world’s most prestigious students, including Malia Obama and Chelsea Clinton. What do these two women have in common? Aside from being the daughters of former United States Presidents, both of these women also have taken a gap year.

Canada press conference for Up with PeopleWe’ve seen a dramatic change in the way young adults pursue their higher education. More and more students are taking a semester off from college to travel and explore other options available to them. Up with People has been providing a gap year program for students since 1965, in hopes of preparing individuals to enter into the next chapter of their adult life as more socially and globally aware citizens.

Harvard College’s website currently states:

“Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way — provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College.”

Gap Year Statistics

We aren’t saying to give up college and never pursue your education. On the contrary, several studies have shown that there are significant benefits to taking a gap year prior to heading to college or technical school.

  • 60% said a gap year helped them decide what subject to study at university.
  • 90% of gap year students who originally intended to go university on their return, do so.
  • 66% of students took their academic work more seriously after having a gap year

Educational travel program Up with PeopleUp with People was previously featured in an article by the Washington Post (read the full article) where one of their reporters spoke with Laura R. Hosdid, expert on gap years at the Vinik Educational Placement Services in Bethesda, Maryland.

Many students choose to spend their gap year in structured programs volunteering abroad or in the United States…performing musical stage performances in multiple countries while living with host families with Up With People.

Hosdid explained that opportunities like Up with People provide students the ability to travel, explore different interests, and gain experience and maturity before beginning college.

Success Stories of Up with People Alumni

Many successful professionals have taken six months to a year off to travel in Up with People including Betsy Myers, previous Chief Operating Officer of Obama 2018 and Frank Gatson Jr., previous choreographer and director for Beyoncé. Other successful alumni of Up with People also include Tom Costello, journalist and NBC news correspondent, and José Antonio Ríos García, Chairman and CEO of Celistics Holdings in Latin America. All of these individuals have graciously thanked Up with People for the opportunity to discover what their true passion and career path was as they continued on into their professional lives.

Not sure how to start a conversation and talk to your parents about taking time off from college? Whether you want to explain the benefits that several universities have expressed or are needing to explain the financial aspects of experiential learning, Up with People has provided several resources to help.

Our admissions counselors are also here to answer any question you or your parents might have when it comes to taking your education and leadership development into a different classroom setting.


Schedule your interview with Up with People by contacting us here!


“There are people out there who do more than their share
They reach out a hand, lift up their fellow man
Let the world see their fight, they’re turnin’ wrong into right
Lets all take a cue from the unselfish work that they do
And then let’s shine the light
Shine the light (x 2)”

Shine The Light © Up with People

No Comments yet!

Your Email address will not be published.