The Beat of the Drum

The Benefits of Taking A Gap Year Before College

Helena Parker, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

It seems as if the majority of people graduate from high school, rush on to college, then settle for a lackluster job. But where’s the adventure in that? Some students, however, opt for taking a gap or bridge year before entering college, which can have numerous benefits.

So what is a gap year? Well, that depends on what you wish to do with it. It is a chance to travel and see new places, take a brief break from academics, and gain a heightened sense of self-awareness, as well as an understanding of the world.

Nearly everyone who chooses this route travels during their semester or year off. There are a variety of programs for this which include disparate countries to live and volunteer in. For instance, with the program Global Citizen Year, you can spend eight months in Senegal, Ecuador, India, or Brazil. Cross Cultural Solutions, on the other hand, allows students to choose either the Spanish Immersion program, programs in Africa, a Global Gap Year, or the ability to customize your own year or semester.

Volunteer opportunities in these countries vary but often revolve around teaching English to locals, working with children in orphanages, and building projects. Other than the obvious effect of helping people in need, if you are someone who is not sure of what they wish to pursue into college or as a career, this may be something to consider.

If you are like Anna Philips, a junior at Napa High, you may be skeptical about taking some time off, how this will affect your college life, and how colleges will perceive your choice. Philips has not put much thought into a bridge year, as it is not something that particularly interests her. However, she plans to attend a UC school straight out of high school.

On the other hand, Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Princeton seem to believe that a gap year will provide students with additional maturity and experience. William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid explains in, “7 Quotes From College Administrators on the Benefits of a Gap Year,” that “The feedback from students almost all the time has been that this experience was transformative. The more life experience you bring, the better off you are in school.”

Additionally, in the same article, Princeton’s Dean of Admissions reveals “[he is] convinced that one’s college education is greatly enhanced by the maturity, experience, and perspective a student can bring post gap year.”  Even Malia Obama, Barack Obama’s daughter, is following this route, as she plans to take a gap year before starting college at Harvard.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.


The student news site of Napa High School
The Benefits of Taking A Gap Year Before College