Having done it myself (many many moons ago), I can personally testify to the benefits of taking a gap year. It serves a number of purposes – especially if you’ve left high school, college or university not really knowing what you want to do next. It is also the brilliant opportunity to see the world, learn more about yourself and get some life experience before you settle down into the role of a responsible adult. So those are the reasons why, but what are the benefits?
A gap year will help you to beef up your resume and make it shines - it's your one chance to impress an employer before being called to an interview. Gaps in a person's employment record are no longer regarded as suspicious lapses. According to recent studies, 88% of gap year students said their time off had made them more employable. Multinational employers recognize the benefits of a gap year: they want staff who can deal with people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, are not afraid of change and new situations - gap year students fit that bill.
You'll never regret the time you spent volunteering. Not only will your volunteer work help others, it will help to enhance your confidence and teach you to deal with unusual situations, will better your communication skills and clarify potential career choices for you. All of these are much prized qualities by future employers. There's also the chance of a full-time job within the volunteering sector.
Travel broadens the horizon and once you're in full-time employment, it will be far more difficult to arrange for a sabbatical and go on a longer trip. See the world, explore countries like Australia, Peru, South Africa or Botswana, Thailand or China. Teaching English at overseas schools, working on a luxury yacht as waiting staff or on a cruise ship will allow you to see the world, learn new skills and save up a little money for when you get home.
College can be very expensive, so it makes sense to take time off to save up money, perhaps do a part-time job to help pay for future tuition. Quite a few universities offer deferment scholarships, which means they'll pay for some of your tuition when you take time out from studying. For example, Tufts University offer gap year programs that assist with paying for accommodation, visa fees and air fares. Harvard University even mentions gap-year opportunities in the acceptance letters sent to students. Go through the list of your preferred schools and find out if they offer scholarships and gap-year opportunities.
Entering college life straight after high school can be fraught with stress, since you'll be leaving home for the first time, having to balance your budget AND your new college schedule at the same time, not to mention those pesky tests. Such a huge change in your life is very stressful and can lead to an early burn out. Allow yourself a break; it's the grown-up thing to do. The benefits of a gap year include clearing your head of accumulated stress.
Away from high school and college pressures, away from parental nagging and peer pressure you'll be able to discover what you're truly made off and what motivates you most in life. This will have a profound impact on your career and life choices, as you will gain in confidence and choose the path meant for you, not the one your family has picked out for you.
Among the major benefits of a gap year are the social aspects. You'll soon make new friends, especially when doing volunteer work, as you'll be meeting lots of like-minded people. You'll have many stories to tell, when you return home, making you a far more interesting person in the eyes of future employers.
Have you considered taking a gap year or are you about to embark on one? Let’s also hear from those who have taken a gap year? What did it do for you?
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