gap year (gæp jɪr)
- an amazing way to win at life
- a period – often before, during or after university – in which a person takes time off to travel the world, learn languages, work, volunteer, or intern.
A gap year is the gift that keeps on giving, and it will make you a better person. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Perform better academically
We’re not ranking the reasons, but this is easily a favorite: taking a gap year can improve your academic performance. One would think that traveling the world for months will put you behind in school, but one couldn’t be more wrong – students who have taken a gap year actually improved their grades. Taking a break, finding your career path and starting school refreshed, focused, and full of motivation can work wonders on performance.
2. Achieve language fluency
Knowing another language is one of the greatest skills to have: It will basically give you superpowers by boosting your brainpower, making you more employable, and increasing your confidence. Of course, you could just learn a language in school – but why not truly live the language? Immersing in a new culture and speaking the language 24/7 while mingling with locals and traveling the world is a surefire way to become fluent and benefit from all of the advantages bilingualism and studying abroad bring.
3. Increase job satisfaction
Students who have taken a gap year report higher job satisfaction. This might not be the first priority when starting college, but it’s a big deal: Once you join the working world, this will be where you spend most of your time, so having a career and a job that make you happy – even on Mondays – will make life much more meaningful. Taking some quality time to find a career that matches your skills, passion, and talents and then build experience and education around it is important and might make all the difference later in life.
4. Get global citizenship
We live in a connected world and chances are that you will have to work with people from other countries. Being aware and accepting that things are done differently in other cultures is incredibly important and a skill best acquired while actually exploring foreign places. Spending your gap year abroad will help you understand how we are all different yet alike, make you more aware of your own place in this world, and give you a new perspective on culture, languages, and people. Students who take a gap year know what it means to be a global citizen – and they have the experience to back it up.
5. Become more financially aware
Here’s a term that impresses parents and employers alike: financial awareness. Guess what can teach you said skill? A gap year, that’s what. When you have to manage a budget for half a year while traveling the world, you will have no other choice than to become an expert on keeping an eye on expenses, saving in just the right places, and allocating money to different activities. Knowing how to handle money and budgets makes being an adult much easier – and it’s a crucial skill that becomes so much more fun to perfect while exploring the world.
6. Cultivate priceless soft skills
Cross-cultural communication, problem-solving skills, adaptability – if there’s a fancy-sounding soft skill, chances are you build and nurture it during a gap year. People skills and emotional intelligence are all the rage when it comes to employability: They look stunning on a resume, so the more you have, the more you will stand out. Taking a gap year will also give you (international) life experience that you’ll need when applying for college or jobs right after graduation.
7. Become more employable
Some people worry that a gap on their resume will decrease their employability – au contraire my friends. It’s all about how you market that gap: Twelve months in which you volunteered in the US, did an internship in Barcelona, became fluent in English and Spanish along the way and developed a plethora of soft skills will make your resume stand out and be an excellent icebreaker during all of the job interviews you’ll score.
8. Avoid academic burnout
Depending on how old you are, you’ve been going to school for pretty much as long as you can remember. It’s time for a break: academic burnout is a thing, as students are under enormous pressure to choose their careers and perform well in class and life. A lot of universities and colleges are aware of the danger of exhaustion and encourage students to take a time out to find out what they want to do, to gain specific skills that will help for school and work, and last but certainly not least, to have some time off where grades and deadlines don’t matter. And that’s just the start of the good news: 90 percent of the students who take a gap year return to school and do so with more motivation and enthusiasm.
9. Explore and find your place
It can be tough to find a major, pick a career, and become an adult – your 20s (and let’s face it, your 30s) are a time where so many things in your life change while you’re navigating a world that transforms with at an incredible speed. It’s a time where you need to make decisions that influence a big part of your life: taking the time to find out what will make you happy for the next 10 to 20 years can make all the difference. A gap year can help you try different things and will help you learn or confirm what you (don’t) want to do – as long as you don’t just aimlessly take time off but make sure you know what you want to get out of your time off.
10. Have the time of your life
Hopefully, you will travel, explore, and go on adventures during your gap year because it’s an amazing chance to learn about yourself and the world while becoming a confident and awesome superhero who wins at life: it’s a time where unforgettable memories are made and great stories happen – complete with new friends from all over the world. Make sure you enjoy every second of it and have the time of your life – it’s what gap years are for.