Updated: May 4, 2018
So you’ve probably heard of a gap year, but do you know why you should take one ? Have you thought about what you could gain by taking a year away from the classroom? If you’re curious and want to start dreaming about the possibilities, read on…
Before we get going, keep in mind that over 81% of gap year alumni polled in the Gap Year Association National Alumni Survey indicated that they are very likely to recommend taking a gap year to someone else considering this path. The odds are in your favor!
Let’s get clear on what a gap year really is - it can be anything you (and your family) want it to be, but the Gap Year Association defines a gap year as, "an experiential semester or year "on," typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness." People decide to take a gap year (or semester) for countless reasons including:
-wanting to explore new interests
-not feeling ready for college and spending 4 more years in a classroom
-a desire to become more independent and develop life skills
-to earn money and save for college
-to complete an internship
-to quench wanderlust
....and an endless list of others.
Most gap year students have "fun" in mind when planning their year “on” (as you should!) but that isn’t the only benefit of carving a different path than many of your classmates. Fortunately, the Gap Year Association has compiled a lot of research on the benefits of taking a gap year, and this information is becoming more commonly known and respected. According to Bob Clagett, a former dean at Middlebury College, undergrad students at Middlebury and the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill who completed a gap year had, on average, a GPA that was .1 to .4 higher than expected.
The Gap Year Association National Alumni Survey also indicates that 98% of return gap year students said that their gap year helped them develop as a person and 96% of students found that their gap year increased their self confidence. You can find more data about the benefits of taking a gap year here. And if your family needs some more convincing to support you in taking a different route and not going straight to college, don’t forget to remind them that 90% of gap year students return to college within a year of their gap year.
Now that we’ve got the data out of the way, let’s dream about what could be possible on your gap year. The options are nearly endless, but here’s a few ideas to get you going:
-Spend three months trekking in the Indian Himalayas (ask our Chief Amazement Officer about her experience!)
-Live and volunteer on a permaculture farm in Northern Thailand
-Work alongside field guides and national park rangers in South Africa
....or how does studying Spanish in Antigua, Guatemala and living with a homestay family sound? Reach out to us at Intrepid Gap to dream and see what we can actualize together.
At Intrepid, we specialize in guiding students and their families through the gap year process. We are here to support you through the research process by identifying and vetting programs and independent placements, helping you bring your dreams to fruition (logistics, nitty gritty details, briefing and debriefing) and bringing the experience full circle when you return home at the end of your gap experience.