Traveling can be considered a form of education, one can gain invaluable life skills.
Some reasons to take a gap year:
The experiences one has can help guide them to a career: Going into college knowing exactly what one wants to study could save one time and money.
Opportunity to work and save money: Taking the year to travel can cost money, but one can also save/earn money. Selling photos, working at hostels for accommodation, and asking locals for work are some ways to earn/save money.
Time for other passions: This is the year to try new things. You’ll have the opportunity to find a new skill/passion and learn more about oneself. It is surprising what one is capable of in a new environment.
It could look impressive on a CV: After traveling abroad, one can create a worldwide network. Becoming independent, working together with locals, planning, and especially learning a new language are great skills to add to a resume.
Enter college with more energy and motivation: Gap year students don’t risk an ‘academic burn-out’. Taking a year to find a direction helps encourage one to finish a degree.
So why don’t more students take gap years? One factor is the pressure to start and finish college as soon as possible. Some argue that someone won't be ready for college, even in a year. But we underestimate how much young adults can learn while traveling the world. Planning, cultural awareness training, self-reliance, leadership, problem solving, and adaptability are just a few skills to mention.
In conclusion, how you use your year is crucial. First, there should be a plan. There are several programs to choose from or make your own. Some employers will doubt the legitimacy of the year off. This should not deter high schoolers, but rather motivate them to gain those valuable skills. Another alternative is to find a school that offers study abroad programs for freshman (first year students), or offers several abroad programs at any grade level. This includes both oppertunities: to get the exposure and working towards a degree.
Have you taken a gap year or studied abroad? Tell us about it!