There’s a lot of pressure on young people to get to college and graduate as soon as possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best path for everyone. Many students are aware of their interests and have ideas about their future careers, but it’s not unusual for a high school junior or senior to be unsure of where they see themselves in ten years. For those who haven’t had much opportunity to travel or get outside their hometown, it can also be hard to know which school or part of the country is the best for them to settle down in. If you’re considering some time off before continuing your education, keep reading to learn more about the four benefits of a gap year before college.
1. You’ll gain experiences.
Anyone who has spent life primarily at home and attending school may not have experienced a lot that life and the world have to offer. Chances to try new things and expand your horizons don’t come often to high school-aged kids. Now, you can try sky diving, hike a 10,000 foot mountain, or pick up a saddle and ride a horse for the first time. Whatever you’re interested in, you can check it out and even see if any of your interests could potentially turn into a career.
2. You can see more of the world.
The ability to see the world can provide incredible insights and better prepare you to enter what has become a global workforce. Whether you want to search for “luxury villa Los Cabos” or visit the historical sites of Europe, there’s something to be learned from the experience. Many people haven’t even seen the Pacific Ocean, and Cabo San Lucas offers the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, like the Sea of Cortez, and see some of the world’s best beachfront.
There are also many destinations where you can take classes or participate in guided programs to teach you about the history, culture, and cuisine of the country you’re staying in. You can even try to find a host family or an exchange program that you qualify for, which will give you a more educational and authentic experience.
3. You have an opportunity to develop new skills.
People often talk about using a gap year to learn a language or gain certification in a new skill outside the typical college curriculum. This can give you an edge over your classmates or other job applicants in your age range in the future since you’ll have more practical training and experience under your belt.
You may even have new bosses, mentors, or contacts to provide you with a recommendation letter for college. Having someone who can speak to your work ethic or demonstrate that you’ve accomplished or learned something important can be a massive advantage in the admissions process.
4. Use the time to decide what type of degree you want.
While some people feel sure of what they want to study in high school, many people don’t know what major they want or have a firm plan for their career after they finish their degree. Taking a year to work in different environments, visit new places, and learn more practically can make you a better and more productive student.
If you’re considering a gap year, sit down and make a list of things you think you’ll be able to gain. Of course, there isn’t much value in a year-long vacation where your primary activity is seeing the nightlife and surfing on the beach. Still, there are an infinite variety of activities you can engage in that will help you learn new skills and better prepare yourself for college’s academic pressure and stress. You can even gain valuable work experience and give yourself a leg up on your classmates. While a gap year isn’t for everyone, it’s often well worth it if you can find ways to use the time productively to better prepare you for your college education.