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3 Practical Benefits of Taking a Gap Year Before College

A gap year is a great opportunity to gain experience, life skills, and clarity on your next steps after high school. Learn more about the benefits here.

As another school year comes to a close, many high school graduates face the dilemma of what to do next—including whether to go straight to college or take a gap year. A gap year is an opportunity for students to take a break from their studies and explore other interests. Many students take this time to work, travel, learn, and gain more life experience. If you’re unsure what you want to do after graduation, taking a gap year could be a great way to gain perspective and figure out your next step. Here are the top three benefits of choosing this path.

1. Gain work experience

Some high school students are interested in gaining work experience and earning money, but they might not have a full- or part-time job yet. Taking a gap year can be an excellent opportunity to work, save money, gain experience for a résumé, and think about your future career path(s). Will you need to go to college to pursue your goals, or would trade or technical school be sufficient? Having work experience can help you save money to put toward your future education plans. It also looks good on college applications and shows that you’ve used your gap year wisely.

2. Strengthen important life skills

It's normal to feel like you might be missing some important life skills as you finish up high school. I mean, you probably just turned 18 or are about to, so you are literally still a teenager—a kid, really, but legally an adult. Have you ever thought about how to manage your money, time, wants, and needs? If not, I recommend starting by taking a financial literacy course to learn more about managing your money. You can find a great online course free from Khan Academy. Learning how to manage your time can also be super helpful when it comes to keeping up with assignments and social activities in college. It's important to be able to distinguish between your wants and needs, such as basic groceries versus junk food. Also, taking care of yourself can be a little daunting, especially if you haven't had much practice. Do you know how to cook, do laundry, drive, or fill your car with gas? If not, taking a gap year can be a great way to learn and establish necessary life skills before starting college.

3. Formulate clear goals

Taking a break from school can be a great way to clear your mind and help you figure out your next steps in life. It’s important to remember that taking time off from school does not mean giving up on your education; rather, you’re taking a step back to evaluate your priorities and goals. By taking this time to research and explore different majors, schools, and careers that genuinely interest you, you can gain a better understanding of what you want to do in life and make more informed decisions about your future.

Related: Your Goals, Your Life, Your Gap Year

It's completely normal to feel unsure about what you want to do after graduating high school. Facing big decisions can be overwhelming. A gap year is a great opportunity to take some time off from your studies and figure out what you want. Hopefully, this information has helped you decide whether a gap year is right and beneficial for you. It’s your future, so take the time you need to make it a great one.

If you’re still deciding on a gap year, check out all the helpful content we have on the topic! Skipping a gap year and going straight to campus after high school? Find where you want to go using our College Search Map.

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About Maddy A-C

Maddy A-C is a high school student residing in California. She enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones at the beach. Additionally, she has undertaken a few college courses and consistently excels in writing assignments. Writing is one of her passions, which stems from her love of reading; you can always find her with a book in hand. Maddy has only worked with CollegeXpress so far, but she is eager to find out what the future holds.


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