Once you’ve graduated from high school, your next step is starting your life at uni…or is it?
Most students begin their college education a mere few months after graduating, and while this might work for some, it might not work for others. It’s no surprise that you might feel tired or completely burnt out. You’ve been keeping up with your primary education for years, after all. If the idea of starting your university courses right away doesn’t sound too appealing, consider taking a year off, or a gap year, to recharge, learn new things, and maybe immerse yourself in a new culture!
What Is a Gap Year?
A gap year is when you take a semester or year to rest after a stressful period in your life, further your education, and gain new experiences. However, this isn’t for the sake of skipping school or traveling around the world. A gap year should be a period that’s intentional and has a clear goal, which is to better yourself.
Many colleges and universities encourage students to take a gap year before entering into the university, and now, in the middle of a pandemic, students are taking that offer.
The Benefits of Taking a Year Off
You Control Your Own Time
Taking a break allows you to spend your time the way you want to, without feeling pressured by academics and deadlines. This also gives you the time to think about what you really want to do in life and helps you decide what course of study to take in college that’s best suited for your chosen career path.
You Get to Experience New Things
Most students go straight into their professional careers once they get out of college and don’t get the opportunity to travel. Taking a gap year can give you time to travel around the country, or if your budget allows it, around the world. You’ll get to meet new people, see new places, taste new food, and have an irreplaceable experience that is sure to change the way you see the world.
You Can Learn a New Skill
You can learn and even master a skill in a year. Whether it’s a language or a technical skill like writing, cooking, or illustrating, these skills can give you either a hobby you enjoy doing or an edge in your professional life. Depending on the skills you’ve learned, you can even add useful skills to your resume, which can increase your chances of getting into your dream school.
You Become a Better, Well-Rounded Individual
When you take a gap year and gain all these new experiences, you become more mature, confident, self-aware, and motivated compared to students who didn’t. This, along with the skills you’ve learned along the way, will help you become a better person and enhance your college experience.
Celebs Who Have Taken Gap Years
If you’re still struggling to find a reason to take a gap year, or if your folks aren’t so keen on the idea, here are a few celebs who took gap years and came out to be some of the most successful people in their fields.
The late co-founder, chairman, and chief executive of Apple didn’t exactly take a gap year; he dropped out of college in 1974 and spent a year in India. At the time, he had been interested in Eastern spirituality and had read numerous books on the subject, even prompting him to join a temple found in Portland.
After talking to a friend who came back from India, he decided to visit the country too. When he returned from his trip, he took the world of technology by storm and created the Mac.
The Duke of Cambridge took a break from his studies by spending his gap year training with the British Army, visiting charities in Africa, and teaching English in Southern Chile.
Like her husband, Kate Middleton also took a gap year by experiencing the Italian culture of Florence, Tuscany, studying art and literature. She even took a ten-week excursion to Patagonia, Chile.
Before starting college, the CEO of Tesla spent a year in Canada working odd jobs like tending to vegetables and taking care of grain bins at a cousin’s farm. After a trip to the unemployment office, Musk ended up taking a pretty difficult job: a boiler room cleaner. On the surface, it doesn’t sound so bad, but the room would get so hot that if you stayed in there for more than 30 minutes, chances are you’d die.
Before starting her schooling at Harvard, Malia took a gap year working with the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain and took an internship with the infamous Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein. In 2015, she had the opportunity to work on the set of HBO’s Girls and Halle Berry’s Extant in the same year.
Choosing to take a gap year doesn’t mean lazing around for a whole 12 months; it’s taking a rest from the rigid structures of schooling and formal education. As Julius Caesar once said, “Experience is the teacher of all things.”