A gap year – between high school and university, or perhaps as a semester off during college – has been increasing in popularity across the globe for a very good reason – it gives you the chance to get a better sense of who you are and what you want to do during major life transitions. A gap year refers to taking time off to travel, volunteer or even work.
But when is the best time in life to take a gap year? While it’s true participants in Up with People’s gap year program are often between high school and university this isn’t the only time in life to travel. Many in our program choose to take a gap year after college, as a break from college or even a few years out of college. It’s important to weigh your options and decide what’s best for you.
The following data is from the 2015 survey from the American Gap Association (AGA). Study participants — individuals 18 to 60 years old who have taken a gap year — indicated their primary motivation for taking a gap year.
After High School
There are many reasons why bridging high school and college with a gap year is a good idea. This is especially true if you have no idea what you would like to major in or study in school. You might also be considering other options than furthering your education so a year of rich experiences, especially traveling, can help your personal discovery. Currently this is one of the most popular times to take a gap year. As a matter of fact, many of the world’s top universities are promoting gap years as an important piece of a young adult’s educational experience, and some are even offering scholarships!
At Up with People, we offer academic credit opportunities as well as participant internships during a gap year. A sense of new adventure with a gap year program is not only refreshing, but offers an opportunity for you to gain more responsibility, independence and solidify what you want to do in life.
Taking a semester off during college might seem unconventional but there are many options today that allow you to take a break and even gain academic credit while you travel. Even if you don’t want to earn academic credit, gap year programs can help boost the bullet points on your resumé. Internships and volunteer programs abroad are especially good for those wanting to take a gap year during college.
Of course, if you don’t have an entire year to go out into the world, a traditional study abroad semester can also be extremely rewarding. This option can be difficult though because interrupting your studies and pulling yourself away from friends can take extra effort. In fact, if you are currently in high school and trying to decide if you should take a gap year before or during college we would recommend before. We believe in the power of a gap year and the truth is that most who say they want to take a gap year and plan on doing it during college, simply end up never going because of the extra effort it takes during school.
You studied hard and now you have no idea what to do next. Your peers are frantically sending out job applications and getting down to the serious business of “real life.” But maybe you’re not ready for this. Enter the post-college gap year. Understandably, you may feel pressure to go straight from college into a big job and to start walking along your path to success. That’s perfectly reasonable, as you want to take advantage of your education and succeed in the workplace. Just remember though, the skills you learn on a gap year can prove to be invaluable for nearly any career path and just might be what sets you apart from others. This also may be your last chance to do some serious travel before starting a family, having kids and taking on the responsibilities of normal adult life.
The average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life according to career change statistics. With an ever increasing number of different career choices on offer, approximately 30% of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months.
Enter the career break gap year! Between jobs it can be nice to take a breath and some time to make a good decision about what your next move might be. Will you change your career field completely? Will you start that business you’ve always wanted? Is it time to write that book? A gap year can be the perfect way to step away from your life and find the answers you seek.
“There are many roads to go
And they go by many names.
They don’t all go the same way
But they get there all the same
And I have a feelin’ that we’ll meet some day
Where the roads come together up the way.”
–Where the Roads Come Together, © Up with People
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Topics: Gap Year Abroad
Up with People is a global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music. The unique combination of international travel, service learning, leadership development and performing arts offers young adults an unparalleled study abroad experience and a pathway to make a difference in the world, one community at a time. Click here to learn more about the internationally acclaimed program, Up with People.