A gap year is a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school or university and prior to career or postgraduate education, in order to deepen one's practical, professional, and personal awareness.
Unfortunately, there's a stigma surrounding taking time off to travel and learn. Too many people believe not heading directly to a university or the workplace means a young person is destined to work in a menial job forever or never go back to school.
But studies have shown that taking a gap year not only are tied to increases in college GPAs, but more significantly is tied to improved job satisfaction. In short, taking the time to figure out what success looks like is a surefire way to be directed in achieving it.
If you're thinking a gap year is just a time to slack off and avoid the hard work required to pursue a college degree, think again.
There are real benefits that result from it.
You can see the world in a different way, determine your real goals and the best way to achieve them, and gain valuable career experience.
Bear in mind that your gap year is not confined in traveling abroad only. In fact, you can combine travel with an educational opportunity that changes the way you think forever. For example, Find an internship abroad if you can.
He famously started Apple, with all its iconic imagery and minimalist aesthetic. But what's less well known is that he spent months living in India, meditating in the mountains and learning how to tap into what was important to him.
J.K. Rowling spent three years teaching English as a foreign language in Portugal. During this time, Harry Potter went from being an idea on a piece of paper to the first three chapters of Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone.
Her time spent in a new country allowed her to craft her vision of the young wizard world and a yearning for the British landscape.
A gap year doesn't always have to be a break from the intellect. In fact, Emma Watson decided to take a break from her acting career to study feminism and gender studies, committing herself to reading a new book every week as personal study.
When he was 19, he traveled throughout the Himalayas, living with a Nepali family outside Darjeeling, and teaching English to Tibetan monks and nuns.
"They were amazingly warm, intelligent, humorous people. Hard to teach English. I built a blackboard, which no other previous teachers seem to have done. With 12 monks in a room with an age-range of about 8 to 40, that's quite important — and the reward-punishment thing of sweets or no sweets, or game or no game, worked quite well."
"But they taught me a lot more than I could possibly ever teach them. They taught me about the simplicity of human nature, but also the humanity of it, and the ridiculous sense of humor you need to live a full spiritual life."