GUEST POST: Why You Should Consider a Gap Year

12 06 2012

This guest post is contributed by Dana Vicktor, a senior researcher and writer for 

More and more universities are encouraging students to take a year off after high school before starting college in what is known as a gap year. College graduates can also take a year off before starting work – an intentional year off, not just unemployment forced by the economy.

Whether a gap year is taken at the start of college or the end – and whether you spend it traveling, volunteering, working overseas, or just reflecting on your goals – there are several benefits it can offer. Here’s why you should consider taking a gap year:

 Define Your Goals

School and work can consume so much of our focus that we lose sight of why we are doing what we’re doing. Sure, you go to college to get a degree so you can get the job, and you get the job so you can make money to live. But you may not know what you really want to do with that degree and what type of work you’d like to perform.

 A gap year can help you to focus on what you really want to do with your life. It can help you answer questions about what kind of work you want to do, where you want to live, and what you want to accomplish in your life.

 Build Your Resume

There are a number of ways that you can spend your gap year that will build your resume and boost your career prospects: You can teach or work overseas. You can volunteer locally or abroad. You can travel for pleasure. You can even spend the time doing nothing, reflecting on your goals.

 These activities can help you boost your confidence and increase your skills. Prospective employers will also be impressed by volunteer experience or time spent overseas. These activities will show that you are dedicated, adaptable, and self-directed.

 Try Again

 If you applied for college but didn’t get in, taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to try again in a year after you have built up your resume. If you have graduated from college and are unable to find work, taking a gap year gives you the chance to redefine your career goals and boost your resume with applicable experience.

 The key is to engage in activities during your gap year that will help your efforts. Volunteer in a position that is compatible with your chosen profession. Find part-time work that will give you the experience you need. Learn a language that will make you more marketable.

 However you spend your gap year, there are many benefits for you personally and professionally. You can use the time to broaden your horizons, learn more about yourself, and define your goals for your future. It also gives you the opportunity to have experiences that help your career or academic prospects.

 Did you take a gap year before or after college? How did you spend the year, and how did it help you? Tell us about it in the comments!


Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology. Her current focus for the site involves symptoms of pregnancy and next maternity.




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