The gap year: when time off is time well spent

Bluff New Zealand sign

Sign in Bluff, New Zealand. Photo: Will Ellis / Flickr Creative Commons

“Travel is an education” is something many vagabonders would agree with. Who hasn’t come back from a trip filled with new knowledge, new friends, and great stories to tell?

The personal finance website dedicated a blog post to the venerable gap year:

The Gap Year: why taking time off to travel is good

The article makes a strong case for students to do some traveling before going to college. Students sometimes switch majors too often and fall behind, because they didn’t know what they really wanted to study in the first place. That wasted time and expense might have been avoided if students had a chance to travel and experiment with different interests.

Travel could help students adapt to college life better. Some kids have never had to live on their own before. Getting time on the road beforehand would teach more independence, survival skills, and money management.

In the end, a gap year could even help students get into college. As admissions becomes more competitive, its becomes more important for candidates to stand out. Any real-world experience would prove their abilities to adapt and succeed.

The good thing is that there’s no fixed time to do a gap year. It can be done before, during, or after college. The advantage of doing it during college is that you can often earn academic credit. By going abroad after college, you have the freedom to get a job and stay as long as you like.

Have you done a gap year? How did it help you? Please share your experiences in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | September 24, 2010
Category: Backpacking, Notes from the collective travel mind, Volunteering Abroad, Working Abroad

2 Responses to “The gap year: when time off is time well spent”

  1. Stephen Says:

    I’m about two years into a three year “gap” between undergrad and grad school. The first year and half of traveling/ teaching gave me a much more specific idea of what I wanted to study when I go back to school, and the time traveling has so far been an opportunity to get more familiar with many of the areas I plan to focus on in grad school.

    Though I do worry a little that being several years older than the rest of my classmates could be a problem, I think the positives of spending so much time traveling first will carry much more weight.

    So, all considered, I feel as if I’d had a very positive experience so far and hope the coming year will only get better.