School life is a fast-paced and mentally exhausting ordeal. More often than not, students and graduates just needed to catch their breath before the looming burn out extinguishes their drive. After all, what’s the point of learning if you can’t process it right? This is where gap year programs come in.
But first, what is a gap year?
A gap year is a year-long break where one veers off from their expected academic or career timeline for the experience. This experience can be traveling for cultural awareness, volunteering, job hunting to save up, diversify skills, or increase knowledge.
Above all else, a gap year’s main goal is to help one relax, rejuvenate, and reassess their goals in life.
Make no mistake though, a gap year isn’t just a frivolous vacation experience. It’s not just about watching Netflix all day long or playing lots of video games. Yes, it is a time to relax but it should also be actively motivating and changing you.
A gap year without a structure is counterproductive.
Here are 10 reasons why gap year programs will change your life for the better
Hobbies are often everyone’s gateway to happiness and contentment. However, because of a hectic schedule most schools require, students often take them for granted. Reigniting them will not only be good for your mental health but also enhance your creativity.
The importance of hobbies is often downplayed. Some people think that investing time for your hobbies is frivolous and worthless. Some even would go so far as to compare the legitimacy of different hobbies. That one is more acceptable than the other.
Hobbies are for you alone and should not be attached to the ego. You don’t have to generate income from them nor should your self-worth be defined by other people’s judgment.
A gap year is a perfect time for you to get back on your hobbies; you might just discover a new inspiration from your passion projects!
Schoolwork can also take a toll on your body. By taking a gap year program that lets you pace yourself, you will be able to recuperate physically. You can get more sleep, maintain a healthy diet, do skincare, and just generally a healthy lifestyle.
More often than not, caffeine, sweets, and instant food are the holy grail of college students. And frankly, it’s not healthy for anyone at all. A gap year gives you the time to fix your body clock and avoid impending health problems.
In order for you to fully rest, you don’t just have to indulge yourself but rather follow a structure that can lead you to your goals. Gap year programs can help you in this aspect and you will definitely be thankful that you took one.
The main reason why most students take a gap year is that it is beneficial for their studies in the future. Supplementary education brought by social immersions is extremely helpful because it can let the students grasp the concepts of their studies in different contexts.
For example, if you’re going to take veterinary, you can gain first-hand experience by volunteering at animal shelters. If you will take architecture, you can travel abroad and immerse yourself with different cultural styles. If you’re going to be a chef, you can continue practicing through online studies.
Supplementary education will let you be more ready with your chosen career path. This is why universities like Harvard and Princeton have gap year programs for their students built in the curriculum.
It’s different from an internship and lets you gain freedom while also being productive at the same time.
Traveling abroad and gaining experience there can diversify your cultural knowledge and awareness. By taking a glimpse of the lives of other people outside your bubble can you only take into context a world view that not every youth gets to perceive.
The most visited countries for gap year programs are from Asia and Europe.
However, diversifying your interaction isn’t just in the scope of other races. This also gives you the opportunity to know prospect mentors, people with different educational backgrounds, belief systems, and temperaments.
Through this, you can be more self-aware and reflective that not everyone has the same circumstances as you have. This will also help you discover new things as you are influenced by the different people you surround yourself with.
Knowledge isn’t the only coveted result from a gap year program but also skills. These skills don’t necessarily have to be in line with your studies though. The more diverse your skills are may it be sales-related, digital marketing, transcribing, etc. the more you have an edge on your resume.
The key here is to bank on your soft skills that many deem useless at first. They may be only minimal changes but they can instantly set you apart from other individuals in your field.
Upskilling won’t take years and can be achieved in months or even weeks. You can even enroll from free online courses offered by Saylor Academy or Alison. These platforms can also send you online certificates of recognition and it’s all just a click away.
You can develop your maturity because of the added responsibilities given to you in work experience. It’s not just about learning textbook-based skills but rather build your character and work ethics.
Gap year programs let you learn to take instructions, execute them, as well as time management. These skills make you more mature because you can then be able to have a sense of responsibility.
Gap years aren’t a time to revert to your childhood whims and be lax or indulgent. You should be reminded that this break is not a reason for you to slack off! Yes, gap years lets you rest and recuperate but also help you transition to adulthood.
According to an article published by Stanford University,
“Good communication enables students to assimilate more from the learning process by empowering them to ask relevant questions and discuss doubts.
Effective verbal communication nurtures the process of socialization by facilitating new friendships and these in turn aid the learning process.”
Developing communication skills is crucial in all aspects of life and this can also aid you in your learning process once you get back to academic life.
Most people take for granted the fact that employers highly value effective communication in the workplace. After all, you can’t effectively learn or do the job without having it.
In a 2020 article by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 81% of recruiters have identified interpersonal skills as the top proficiency every mid-level employee should have.
Gap year programs will immerse you in different settings and in turn, you are challenged to communicate among diverse people.
Traveling and immersion can make you a different person all in all. And one of the most poignant influences of gap year programs is by opening your eyes towards the atrocities inflicted on other people.
You get to check your own privileges because not everyone has the luxury like you to immerse yourself from other cultures.
Fighting for human rights doesn’t necessarily mean that you become some sort of vigilante, this just means that you get to empathize. When you do, it’s when you get to be more self-aware and understanding of other people’s struggles.
Awareness may not be the end all be all solution to every problem in the world but it is the first step for you to model your actions.
90% of the students who take a gap year go back to their initial schools based on a survey by Gap Year Association. However, most of them have changed in the process as well.
Gap year programs are instrumental to everyone because that necessary pause creates the space for you to reassess your goals. What you initially planned in your future will always change.
The accumulated knowledge you have acquired in this experience will change you for the better.
Last but not the least, gap year programs will develop you as a person. You may find your purpose in life, you may change the path you initially thought you’re gonna take, the bottom line is you will be a changed person.
Gap year programs are life-changing because they get you to reflect and find yourself. As Aristotle had once said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”