A Few Benefits of Taking a Gap Year Before College Graduation
The norm for many countries is to head straight to college, also called “uni”, as soon as high school graduation is over. It may seem smart to get the ball rolling on a college education. But recent studies have shown that the most successful people in life have taken a year off from school before attending university classes.
Maybe this sounds like the most outrageous idea, one that you would never dream of doing, but just consider it. It’s more common to take a gap year after heading off to college, but many people have never considered doing it beforehand. What’s the harm in taking a gap year before heading off to 4+ years of college? There aren’t many harms, but there certainly are some benefits.
It Leads to a Better Chance of College Performance
Many studies have shown that high school graduates who have jetted off to foreign places before enrolling in university actually perform better later on. This is just generally speaking, but these students tend to receive better grades and find a higher level of success later on in life. No one knows why this is for sure, but there are a few theories.
The most commonly-believed theory is that taking a year off after already completing over a decade of school is a great way to hit the restart button before tacking on another 4 years. When you take a year off, you are essentially able to refresh the mind, which then allows you to head off to college in full force. Students that head to college right away are more likely to suffer from burnout and drop out. This is very unlikely for students who have taken a gap year.
Including Kindergarten, American students must attend nearly 17 years of school before receiving the sought-after college degree. You should never feel ashamed from taking a break before those 17 years have been completed. So go ahead, hop on a bus from Hanoi to Sapa or board a train from Budapest to Prague without worrying about finishing your homework.
Traveling Before College Teaches Invaluable Life Lessons
Travel is the ultimate way to learn a few life lessons that will actually come in handy during college. Without taking a gap year, you might have to learn these lessons the hard way while in school. For those of you who decide that a year off after high school is the best route, these lessons will be taught, learned, and applied to life before hitting the books.
One of the major lessons is learning how to be independent. Up until now, chances are you have lived with your mom and dad, maybe you have become a bit spoiled. While on the road, this will all change and you’ll be on your own (especially if your parents are no longer supporting you financially. During a gap year, you’ll be required to be independent and start looking after yourself more than you ever had to before.
Independence is just one of the amazing life lessons that will be learned on the road. Gap year travelers also learn invaluable social skills that can later on be applied to meeting new college friends. The best way to learn while on the road is to try an find a work or volunteer position in every new country. This is a great way to learn about the culture of the area and build up a resume.
It Opens Your Eyes to the World
Other than traveling on family vacation, most individuals don’t travel much while they are young. Traveling as a minor isn’t normal in many countries, especially in North America, but as soon as you hit 18 the world should be considered your oyster. Before being confined to yet another classroom for 4 more years, explore the world and see what it has to offer.
Go drink wine with new French friends in front of the Eiffel Tower, or get a taste of real Thai culture as you meander through a night market in Bangkok. A gap year is the perfect way to open your eyes to the world before hitting the books and spending hours on end in the university library.
It Offers Clarity on What to Do Next
One of the biggest wastes of time is to start of college with on major or specialty, only to decide to change it two years later. This is actually very common, mainly because it is out of the question to expect 18 year olds to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Luckily, taking a gap year can offer some clarity on this, offering the necessary time to think about the future. Gap year students are much more likely to have a clear understanding of what they’d like to do in the future. This means they are much less likely to partake in any major-switching down the road.