Should You Take a Gap Year?
I bet you’ve stumbled upon this article because it had “gap year” in the title. I can also bet that you will or have already thought about taking a gap year at some point in your life.
The good news: taking a gap year between high school and college is becoming increasingly popular amongst the up and coming generations. Taking a gap year is nothing new; as a matter of fact, people have been doing this for quite some time already!
But now that travel has become such a huge aspect for people’s lives today, it is definitely easier to find a means to get to where YOU want to go. There are many opportunities for people to take a gap year. Travel has become such a huge aspect in our culture that there are hundreds of travel companies that focus on gap year adventures, assistance, programs, etc. Adelante Abroad offers some gap year options for those seeking adventure in Spanish speaking countries!
Why Should You Take a Gap Year?
By now you’ve probably asked yourself these questions many times:
“Should I take a gap year?”
“What are the benefits of taking a gap year?”
“Will I have money?”
“Where would I go?”
“How do I get there?”
Etc. etc. etc.
It’s a lot of questions to be answered, but that’s normal. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and figure it all out on the way. But the one question that may or may not be burning in your mind is “WHY?” Why. Why should you take a gap year? Why would anyone?
Taking a gap year has many benefits and (if you keep scrolling) I’ll go over some of the benefits that our past and current candidates love about it!
Who Can Take a Gap Year?
ANYONE can take a gap year. That’s right, you read that correctly.
An. Eee. Won.
Seriously, your parents could even take a gap year and leave you to fend for yourself (not that I’m saying they will because let’s face it, that’s messed up), but it reiterates my point: ANYONE can go! Whether you’ve just graduated high school and don’t want to dive right into college just yet, or you just want a break from the crazy adult workforce world, go and find yourself!
There’s no age limit or certain background you have to meet to take a gap year. Taking a Gap Year is meant for people to take a break from their lives, to drop (almost) everything and discover what they want to do in a career and who they’re meant to be.
Alright alright. You made it to the part of this post where you get to see what you gain out of taking a gap year. The good stuff. The stuffing to the turkey. The peanut butter to ya jelly.
What Traveling Does For You
Let’s stop for a moment. Bare with me.
Before we move on, I want you to think of a time where you had the opportunity to travel. What was your experience like? How did you feel the first couple of days? Did you like the environment, culture and people that surrounded you? How did you feel when you came home after your travels?
Answering to these questions helps answer a portion of why you should take a gap year.
Traveling exposes you to parts of the world you may not ever get to experience at home. To be fully immersed in a culture is a beautiful and, sometimes, an intimidating experience! It really tests your limits and your ability to survive in an environment that is completely new to you.
One of the things that you can take away from traveling is getting out of your comfort zone. Being able to get out of your comfort zone allows you to grow as an independent individual and rely on your social and survival skills. It tests your ability to make decisions, to become more knowledgeable of the world and to gain more confidence in yourself knowing that you were able to successfully break down the barriers between you and the outside world.
(Plus, Mom and Dad would be super impressed that you did your laundry and washed the dishes without anyone reminding you.)
I must say, you may also catch a particular bug while traveling. That creature is the travel bug! Once you get a taste of the outside world, all you’ll ever want to do is explore some more. Guaranteed.
Wouldn’t you want your Instagram page to look dope with some awesome travel pics??? I know I would.
What You Can Gain from Taking a Gap Year
There’s a bunch of stuff you gain from taking a gap year. I mean, for one, your Instagram feed will be looking fuego (that’s um… Spanish for “fire” if you didn’t already know). Imagine all the nice aesthetic photos you’ll be taking and posting on your page! Ugh. That’s the dream!
Besides having the best Instagram page, you gain knowledge about the world and different cultures, you learn about yourself through different levels of stress and experiences, you meet new and different people from all walks of Earth, and your skillsets get revamped and you gain new ones!
Taking a gap year will open doors for you, but it’s up to you whether you want to risk it or not.
Here’s an article from the Huffington Post about taking a gap year and why you should. It talks about what you gain and what it does for you as a person. It gives you 10 reasons why you should take a gap year. Read it. It made me want to go.
Here are MORE reasons why you should take a gap year from the 2015 National Alumni Survey, IRB Approved, and done in collaboration with Temple University, the Institute for Survey Research, and researched by the great Nina Hoe, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania:
- Gap Years teach students about personal responsibility & critical thinking.
- Gap Years foster a clarity that supports outstanding academic achievement, minimizes the time spent “lost” and maximizes the sense of personal drive.
- Gap Year graduates consistently outperform their peers in terms of GPAs; more commonly take on leadership roles; more financially savvy; more employable (soft skills).
- Gap Years (aka Bridge Years) offer a profound opportunity for students to learn about their neighbors – both global and local – and help to heal the divide in our country.
Who You Are Before, During and After a Gap Year
It’s wonderful to reflect on an adventure as you sit in your squished economy airline seat. Whether you’ve traveled for a week, two weeks, a month or a year, it is always nice to record your journey before, during and after.
I usually like to recommend taking photos as a sort of visual diary, a.k.a. Instagram. Sometimes a photo is all you need to recall a memory or a time in your life that you experienced the feeling of joy, wonder, excitement, fear, confusion and even regret. Who you are before your trip and after your trip may or may not shock you. It all depends on how much you step out of your comfort zone.
If taking photos is not your thing, a journal works just as fine! Maybe even a little better? Writing down notes, experiences, feelings, etc. will help you realize how much you’ve changed as a person after your travels. Part of Adelante’s program requirements is filling out reflective exercises during the first week of the internship. This will lead to writing down more reflective pieces down the line, which make the program, yourself and your employer look good! I can smell a letter of recommendation cooking.
It’s important to remember that traveling is great and it’s wonderful to experience the world, but if you don’t gain something out of it that has changed you in some way, shape or form, you should try and break from your shell. It doesn’t hurt every once in awhile to break down your walls and show the world who you truly are! There are six billion people on this beautiful planet we call home, what makes you think you’ll see any of the people around you again? Live a little. Explore. Live your life to its fullest.
What About Jobs? Colleges?
There are three different scenarios that come to mind when I think about a Gap Year for those who are interested:
- The high school graduate who isn’t ready for college.
- The college student looking to find his/herself.
- The salary job employee feeling stuck.
Good news if you fall into one of these categories: taking a Gap Year can happen at anytime!
For the high school graduate who isn’t ready for college, find a job, save money, and travel! Colleges will look at someone who has explored the world and has gained some knowledge outside of their own society valuable to their campus. Traveling can and will do that to you.
For the college graduate finding his/herself, taking a gap year will not only help you search for the person you truly want to be, but it’ll also look extremely appealing on your resume when you apply for jobs! Employers are looking for someone who isn’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone, who has embraced many cultures on their travels, taken the risk to go abroad, and you grow so much as an individual that your personal skill set improves.
For the salary job employee feeling stuck, traveling will help you grow as a person that you may find another path. Sometimes it’s a good recharge of the batteries and you come home refreshed and ready to go. But if you’re feeling stuck now, you’ll feel stuck later. Take the gap year to really find yourself. You’re not going to get unstuck staying in the same place in the same city in the same state of mind. Just sayin…
Look at this article that talks about how taking a gap year helps students grow, both high school and college. It links studies on how taking a gap year helps students who aren’t ready for college and how it helps guide you a bigger future. Read it. Read it! It will help you make decisions on taking a gap year.
You’ve made it to the end of the post. For those who did read until the end, thank you and I hope that this helped in any decision you may have about taking a gap year. It’s important to understand that taking a gap year has many benefits for anyone no matter the age or stage in life. It gives you the opportunity to grow and learn about yourself in ways you wouldn’t be able to do in your hometown. It’s best to go out and explore the world that makes you a little uncomfortable because it’s there you really test your limits and your abilities to survive. That’s where traveling becomes the most rewarding.
So take the gap year. Maybe not now or tomorrow, but at some point in your life you should. Go.
About Our Contributor:
Drew is Adelante HQ’s Social Media & Marketing intern for Fall 2017 and is currently a Public Relations major at Cal State Long Beach. He has participated in a youth exchange program in Dakar, Senegal and an international basketball tournament in Japan. One of his many traveling goals is to step foot on every continent on this big blue planet, and yes, even Antartica.