While the statement of taking a gap year might sound familiar to the British or Australian students, this amazing practice still remains relatively new in the United States. Mostly seen as a tradition among the British students, more and more American counterparts choose it as a way to make a social difference and get ready for a different way of life.
So what does it mean to take a gap year? In simple terms, it means taking a year off before getting enrolled in some college or university. It helps you to explore all the things this world has on offer as soon as you finally have some freedom and independence!
According to the American Gap Association, there are approximately 30,000-40,000 American students annually that choose to take a gap year before they enter college.
Now if you were about to think that taking a gap year means staying at home and doing nothing at all, you are very far from the truth. Of course, an average student can use the time to take a break, yet this particular practice stands for a plethora of experiences that are precisely meant for this period of time.
Another study claims that students who take gap years become more successful academically as they enter college when compared even to mature-aged students. The reason for that is gaining certain skills, better grades, and mental freedom that comes along with the new choices that are not forced. The key element is decision-making that a future student learns even when making a simple choice.
Reasons to Take a Gap Year
While the reasons for each person may be unique to each case, there are at least seven reasons why taking a gap year will become a positive change in your life and in the lives of people that you encounter.
- Your Academic Performance Increases. Taking a break to choose a future career path does not mean that you are putting things off. On the contrary, you will be able to travel the world and start your college life by turning to new experiences, feeling motivated and refreshed.
- Traveling Keeps You Open-minded. You may start learning a foreign language or simply visit another country. It will help you discover new cultures and think outside the box that you may have sensed. Even if you start learning the basic grammar rules, it will help you consider studying abroad or join a famous university as an exchange student.
- Knowing Your Future. Another reason why taking a gap year helps is learning more about your job. You can join this or that company as an apprentice or as a volunteer before you make your college course choice. Of course, it will not provide you with an instant answer because practice makes perfect, yet you will learn what skills are required for a certain career.
- Become Financially Responsible. When you become financially aware, it always shows. As you take a gap year, you have to create and manage a certain budget as you travel the world. You have to start saving and manage your funds for this or that activity. Once you learn the basics, it will become a life-saver at college.
- Learn How to Communicate. If you want to become better at social skills, you can join any charity or anything related to your future career choice. If you want to become a teacher, you can join the Scouts. Likewise, journalists can travel to a country with a different culture and learn more about emotional intelligence.
- Better Employment Options. How does it work? Quite simply! If the HR manager sees that you have traveled all over the world and volunteered in Latin America or joined a large bank in the UK as a volunteer, your employment options will be increased.
- No Stress and Academic Burnout. We all know how challenging and stressful it is to live through school days as you get older. You do not have to be pushed as you choose your career. This is the most important reason why students take a gap year - to have some rest and think clearly!
The Impact of Covid-19 & The Gap Year Perspectives
Since most American universities have turned to online tutoring with the future remaining uncertain, the gap year opportunities became hazy as well. The good thing is that you do not have to give up as the list of possibilities has only changed. Of course, the traveling abroad part seems unreal due to travel restrictions, there are more volunteering options that become possible as digital communications take place.
Still, it must be noted that online learning and the times of increased stress are not a favorite cup of tea for some students. It is also a reason why taking a year off seems to be a good option until things finally improve. As always, there is no better time period than now to work at self-discovery and figure out the list of things that make one feel inspired.
Good Things to Consider During Your Gap Year
Without a doubt, you can choose anything that fits you well in terms of finances, personal preferences, and future plans, yet some things look much better when you present your resume and mention it in your Statement of Purpose as you enter the college of choice.
Some good ideas to think about include:
- Better Study Options. Since you do not have to choose the first college that comes your way or the one you can afford, you receive more time to apply for a scholarship or explore the ways how you can pursue your dream. You can join a company that interests you as a future professional, talk to the current employees, and make a good choice!
- Travel Resources & Special Programs. Of course, the most popular choice for the gap year is traveling through the world and learning more about the cultures or traditions. It is especially important for those who plan to study Political Science, Religion, Culture, Sociology, and Journalism.
- Volunteering Ideas. Consider volunteering and charity options as they will be the best part of your CV.
- Various Internships. You can teach children as a substitute teacher or join an architecture analysis project at a local construction company.
- Education. You can learn a different language or start with carpentry or cooking. If it does not sound good to you, you can join some free or paid course that relates to your future career before you get enrolled.
- Paid Job. If you want to gain some independence, you can look through the job ads or earn some funds before you become a student.
10 Best Gap Year Programs
- Internships in New York. Regardless if you want to succeed in Financial Marketing or Media Studies, it is hard to find a better location for your gap year than New York. The Intern Group is one of the largest internship groups that are aimed at those students who want to take a break and learn more about this or that career.
- Maine Backpacking to Florida Sailing. What about a 75 days long expedition where you explore the river's ecosystem and the tropical waters of the famous Everglades National Park? If you want to receive one of the most amazing experiences, it is hard to beat!
- International Volunteer Headquarters USA. Both online and offline, IVHQ offers amazing volunteering opportunities with over fifty destinations all over the world. Starting with online tutoring to saving the whales, the opportunities are endless.
- Carpe Diem Education. If you want to discover and explore the issues that occur along the border between the USA and Mexico, you can apply your future major to anything from climate changes to culture and legislation.
- Summer Camp Counselor. It is especially good for the exchange students. Spend three months at the US summer camp and get one month for traveling. If you are able to provide 24/7 care for a group of campers for three months, you can consider this great option.
- Tivnu Jewish Life Program. If you want to learn more about Jewish life and work for social justice, you can apply for an individual 9-month social justice program.
- Gap at Glen Brook. Spend your gap year at the local forest, work in the field, and spend time at the farm. The great view over the Monadnock Mountain and the crystal clear air will keep you happy.
- The School of The New York Times. Spend your gap year with the award-winning tutors and learn about how the news is being made. Join this intellectual journey and interact with the best thinkers!
- Camps International. Spend your time in South America, Asian countries, or even go as far as Africa for your incredible cultural experience. You can learn Healthcare, Culture, Education, and Agriculture among other subjects.
- Amigos De Las Americas. If you like Latin American culture or want to learn Spanish (or Portuguese), you can work directly with the local youth and make a positive influence. Become a true leader and a better person!
Useful Resources to Plan Your Gap Year
- Gap Year Association. The best place to consider for your gap year advice plans and resources. An excellent advocacy team that offers professional consulting.
- Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). Learn more about international programs that allow you to study and learn more about internships and foreign courses.
- Go Overseas. You can search for possible options as you look for safety, housing, support, fun, or any other criteria.
- Center for Interim Programs. If you want to get free assistance for your personal project for the gap year, look no further!
- Gapwork. Browse through the large database of volunteering work options. Anything from helpful travel mobile apps to safety precautions, it has it all.
- Gap360. Looking for an opportunity overseas that will help you to earn some funds? It is a good resource that can help you sort the possibilities according to your resources.
- Workaway. If you want to stay at home as you work, which is especially relevant now, it offers gap programs in over 155 countries all over the world.
Financial Aid Tips:
- Gap Year Financial Aid. A combination of working, fundraising, and social work will grant you financial aid.
- Trusts and Grants for The Gap Year. The community gap support that requires an interview.
- Americorps. If you want to challenge yourself with the most pressing volunteering activities, it will be funded.
- Foreign Language & Areas Studies. If you plan to be enrolled in the FLAS program, your gap year funding can be assisted.
- Foundation for Global Scholars. All it takes is applying for the FS scholarship by writing an essay and telling the foundation committee about your plans and why financial help matters to you.
The gap year must be an enjoyable adventure where you learn, grow, and succeed. It does not have to be formidable and act as a burden that you must face. Just take your time to study and learn, make multiple choices, join several activities, and become a new person that is responsible, caring, and respectful in every step taken!