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24 May, 2018   |   

Taking A Break From Traditional Education

Attending university for many students seems like a default life decision and sometimes not even a choice at all. When school doesn’t seem to fit, some simply decide to go to college even though they may need a break from traditional education. More and more, students and parents are recognizing the value in taking a break and exploring other forms of education that will provide skills for the real world.

Take Josh, a member of Up with People’s Cast A 2018, who recently said, “Taking a year to see the world before I went out into it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I wish every young adult who’s still searching for their passion could have the opportunity to travel and find what empowers them while making the world a happier place in the process.”

Young people who take a gap year typically say they entered the real world after their experience feeling more recharged and focused. Some decide to continue their traditional education where universities say those students often are better leaders and more motivated. A large problem for many traditionally educated students is that they have no idea what they want to do. Making an alternative choice can allow young people to mature and get focused rather than spend thousands of dollars on a major they might never use.

Young people feeling burnt out on traditional education should pay attention to several signs that they should consider a gap year. These signs include:

  • The desire to learn a new language
  • The need for a break from school
  • Stepping out of  your comfort zone sounds like fun
  • You want a resume that stands out
  • You have no idea what you want to major in
  • You are interested in building an international network
  • You enjoy meeting people from other cultures and backgrounds
  • You crave adventure


Taking a gap year abroad is a way to learn skills that are difficult to learn during a traditional semester. For example, travel teaches us cross-cultural competence, a skill that is needed in this world now more than ever.

NBC national news correspondent Tom Costello took a gap year with Up with People and as he explains in the following video, the experience changed his life.

For many students, high school is simply a race to get into college, and by the end, they are just too burned out to do well once they get there. A gap year is a chance to push the reset button before plunging back into academia, if at all. In fact, this is one of the reasons Harvard recommends a gap year, to combat burnout in their highly motivated student body. On their website they state:

“Professionals in their thirties and forties – physicians, lawyers, academics, business people and others – sometimes give the impression that they are dazed survivors of some bewildering life-long boot-camp…what can be done to help? Fortunately, this young fast-track generation itself offers ideas that can reduce stress and prevent burnout. In college application essays and interviews, in conversations and counseling sessions with current college students, and in discussions with alumni/ae, many current students perceive the value of taking time out.”

If any of the above information resonates with you, then maybe you should consider taking a break from traditional education. Many times a gap year is exactly what a young person needs to plant the seeds for a fruitful and fulfilling life.



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