10 Reasons to Take a Gap Year

For many students, attending college right after high school seems like a natural step. For others, even those who eventually want to earn a degree, going to college right away doesn't feel right. People falling into the latter category may choose to take a gap year. Read on to learn why this is an increasingly popular option among high school graduates.

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1. You need a break.

School isn't easy, at least for those who take it seriously. You've just completed 12 years of structured academic classes, and you might feel it's time for a break. A gap year allows you to take a deep breath and recharge. When you do attend college, you'll be refreshed and ready for the challenge.

2. You don't know what you'd like to study.

As a college freshman, it isn't essential to know what you want to study. Having absolutely no idea what major you want to pursue, though, may mean you need to explore options in the world prior to beginning your college career. A gap year allows you to follow your interests and discover what you truly enjoy.

3. You want to travel.

Travel is very common among individuals who take a gap year. Many students specifically take a break from school to visit or live in another region of the world. Travel provides the opportunity to have fun, learn about others and explore cultures different than your own. Many people taking a gap year use this time to learn another language in a different country. The experience can also inspire new interests that one day inform your choice of career.

4. You want to help others.

Many people choose to take a gap year so that they can directly help others, whether that's in the area they live or another region of the world. There are many government agencies and nonprofit organizations that specialize in placing recent high school graduates in volunteer positions. In addition to being important for its own sake, this kind of work can also look good on your resume.

5. You want to explore careers.

Whether it's working in a part- or full-time position with a local company or traveling far away to complete an internship, there are many opportunities to learn more about different professions. This early experience can be of long-lasting benefit to you in the workforce.

6. You want to save money.

Depending on the work opportunity, you may be able to save up money for college during a gap year. Some gap year programs help you save on tuition by offering the opportunity to earn college credit. Even if your financial situation seems secure, chances are you'll ultimately be glad to have the extra money - college costs are rising dramatically.

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7. You want to build academic skills.

High school can be tough, but most people agree that college is much more difficult. It can be even harder if you're without adequate study skills, or if you struggle to understand basic concepts in important subject areas. Taking time off to complete remedial language or math classes may be a wise course of action. This extra time can help you refine your study skills and be that much more prepared for college.

8. You want to separate yourself from the pack.

Many colleges recognize that taking a gap year can benefit high school graduates. Some even offer programs that allow first-year students to delay taking classes until after completing gap year activities. While a gap year adventure can impress schools, bear in mind that not all colleges may regard a gap year in fully positive terms. Check with the admissions board if this concerns you.

9. You don't feel ready for college.

Even if your academics are up to par, you have financial security and you know what you'd like to study, you might simply feel unready for college. Maybe you're facing a challenging personal or family situation. Maybe it's just a feeling you have. Regardless of the reason for your reluctance, taking a gap year can give you the time needed for growth and reflection.

10. Get to know yourself.

Trying new activities and taking risks can help you learn who you are and what you ultimately want to do with your life. During your gap year, you'll likely gain confidence in your abilities and talents. This time on your own gives you the opportunity to start your college studies feeling more grounded and ready for the challenge. If this stage of soul-searching sounds more appealing than jumping right into college life, taking a gap year may be a good option for you.

Don't quite grasp the spirit of a gap year? Learn more about the purpose of a gap year and how it can benefit you.

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