9 Great Gap Year benefits

Many young people the world over ask themselves a very important question as they finish high school – “What next?” Even in countries where university education is free, it can be daunting for a high school student to have to decide what you want to study, and what your career path will be.

And in countries where university education can be very expensive, the choices you make are even more critical!

So why not take a gap year between high school and college / university? For starters, it gives you time to gain some perspective on what you might want to do with your life. You don’t have to rush straight from your parents’ house in your home town to young adult life, university courses and make-or-break decisions in a big city centre.

Taking a gap year between high school and college can be tremendously beneficial to your personal growth, whether you spend time volunteering overseas, or simply traveling the world.

Here are some more gap year benefits to help you make up your mind.

1. You’ll have time to think about life

This might not seem like such a big deal to a young, busy person who wants to get out there and experience life rather than just wonder about it.

But look at it this way: your life is unfolding pretty fast right now. Once you get to university or training college, things start moving even faster. Giving yourself room to think and breathe and figure out who you are and what you want is so much easier when you’re on a hike in a beautiful equatorial forest, or travelling overland from Cape Town to Dar Es Salaam. 

gap year student overseas

2. You can have adventures in the prime of your life

When else are you going to be 18 or 19 years old with no career commitments, no mortgage payments to stress about, no husband or wife, no children, and no worries?

Never. Trust me. The answer is, literally, never. The time to embark on your volunteering or travel adventure is now!

3. You can figure out what you love before you start studying

Often, university students commit themselves to an area of study, then realise it’s not what they really want to do. They change to a completely different major… sometimes two or three times!

If you’ve had some time to figure out what you want to do, you’ll cut down on coursework, tuition bills and stress. If you study in a country with high student fees, you don’t want to be stuck with huge loans, or waste your parents’ money - even more reason to take a gap year first!

gap year volunteer

4. You’ll perform better at university

Students might worry that university admissions officials or professors will judge them unfavorably for taking a gap year. This isn’t true: many schools report that gap year students have higher grades and are more involved in campus activities.

5. You’ll have a better resumé

A gap year doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be unemployed for a year, living off your parents. Most gap year students get at least some kind of job to fund their travels. Often, those jobs are overseas.

No matter where you work, you’ll have valuable experience on your resumé. Many employers will value your ability to do business with customers from different cultures. There are a number of things employers will pick up on from your travel or volunteer experiences that will help you in your career.

gap year student

6. You’ll figure out adult priorities before anyone else

University is a lot of fun, but it’s easy to get so caught up in your classes and social group. Many students start to think these things are the absolute centre of the universe. Any tiny crisis might seem like the end of the world!

However, if you’ve traveled the wider world in all its complexity and glory, especially if you volunteer as part of your gap year, you’ll understand there are bigger issues for humanity than a failed date night, or an exam that didn’t go too well.

7. You’ll be able to adapt well to new places

On a gap year, you’ll be forced to integrate into a new society, especially if you volunteer overseas. You’ll definitely meet a new group of friends, and you’ll probably come into contact with new languages, cultural norms, and socioeconomic groups. You’ll be able to navigate around many different kinds of situations and have a broader understanding of how humanity functions.

University also requires these adaptation skills, even though it might be to a lesser degree. So you’ll be much more ready to handle yourself if you’ve already shifted around in different societies before!

gap year hottie

8. You’ll have more interesting things to talk about!

Most new university students talk about the same old topics: “Where are you from?” and “What’s your major?” That’s great and all, but think about the kind of conversations you could be having when you’ve spent time working with wildlife, or volunteering on the stunning tropical island of Zanzibar

9. You’ll make new friends

It goes without saying that you’ll meet plenty of new people on your gap year, whether you travel around in your own country or overseas. And unlike most of the people you’ll meet at university or college, they’ll probably be from everywhere in the world.

This is the best time of your life to make friends from all over the world. Technology is on your side these days, and you’ll have no trouble keeping contact with your friends, or organizing future travel opportunities together if you want to.

gap year friends

All in all, a gap year can only work to your advantage.  Give it some serious thought, plan well so you don’t get nervous, then go ahead and make the best decision of your life!


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