To Gap or Not to Gap: 7 Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

Taking a gap year can be a valuable and enriching time and most people who have done it recommend the experience to others. While not every student may choose or be able to take a gap year, there are several reasons why it can be a good idea.

For those with the financial means, travel and volunteer work is a great way to get life experience, learn about other cultures, and develop maturity. Those without extra money can take a gap year by choosing to work during this time.

This can help students save money for their education as well as gain valuable work experience.

List of Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

Here are some of the ways students can benefit from taking a gap year:

  • Personal Growth and Development
  • Enhanced Academic Performance
  • Cultural and Global Awareness
  • Career Exploration
  • Increased Motivation for Higher Education
  • Improved Emotional Well-being
  • Enhanced Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

Personal Growth and Development

Taking a gap year may help teens and young adults by contributing to personal growth and development. Gap years provide kids with an opportunity for self-discovery and self-exploration that they won’t find in a traditional educational environment.

Experiences during a gap year, whether they include traveling, volunteer work, or pursuing personal interests, can lead to better self-awareness and more understanding of the student’s own passions and values. This can be valuable in helping to shape the student’s character and life perspective. 

In addition, the knowledge and experience gained during a gap year can help students better plan for their future and approach their college years with a better sense of purpose and decision. Gap year student activities can help kids work toward their future purposefully and intentionally.

Enhanced Academic Performance

While it may be common knowledge that students who take gap years can be more mature and better experienced, it can come as a surprise that gap years can make kids better students, as well. Research suggests that students who opt for a gap year often have improved academic performance once they return to formal education.

The break from traditional classroom settings allows for a reset, helping them achieve increased focus and motivation. After a gap year, kids often return to school with a higher commitment to education which has a positive effect on their overall learning experience. This challenges the long-held idea that students need to go right into college to achieve success.

Cultural and Global Awareness

Taking a gap year that includes travel or international experiences can help students develop a sense of cultural awareness and provides an educational experience beyond anything that can be found in a classroom. Exposure to diverse cultures and viewpoints can lead to a more nuanced and mature understanding of the world. These experiences can lead to the development of open-mindedness, tolerance, and a global mindset. 

Young people who have traveled and experienced different cultures also have advantages in other ways. Travel increases student’s confidence and ability to handle challenges on their own. It gives them experience in meeting new people and dealing with new situations and helps them learn about the world and themselves through hands-on experiences.

Career Exploration

According to students who have taken a year out of their education to work, a gap year provides a valuable opportunity for career exploration. The practical experience students get when they get real jobs in the real world can help them clarify their career goals and make more informed decisions about their future paths.

Whether through internships, volunteer work, or exposure to different industries, a gap year allows individuals to test their interests in real-world contexts, potentially saving them from pursuing career paths that they might not end up enjoying.

In addition, having a job during a gap year gives students work experience that can help them find employment immediately after college. Graduates are finding it harder than ever to get jobs after they leave college, so having actual work experience can give students a leg up when it’s time to start looking for work. This is especially true if the student can find employment or internships related to their future career goals.

Increased Motivation for Higher Education

Some studies have found that taking a gap year may result in increased motivation and commitment to academic studies upon returning to higher education.

The break from the traditional academic routine can reignite a student’s enthusiasm for learning, challenging the assumption that delaying college entry negatively affects a student’s academic trajectory.

In addition, experience in the “real world” gives students perspective on the life higher education can give them and cement their motivation and goals. Having experienced the workplace environment or travel, students have a better view of what adult life is like and often feel more confident in their future goals and aspirations.

Improved Emotional Well-being

In addition to the academic and personal benefits of taking a gap year, there may also be potential mental health benefits to this time away from education. The break from academic pressures can contribute to improved emotional well-being, allowing individuals to recharge and develop coping mechanisms.

This perspective aligns with the idea that a gap year can serve as a valuable pause for self-care and reflection, which is beneficial for overall mental health. Because students have spent most of their young lives in educational pursuits, taking a year to refocus, learn to know themselves, develop interests and passions, learn about the workforce, and travel can be a great way to prepare for the rigorous academic load of college or university.

It can also help bring student’s childhood to an end and prepare them for adult life, setting them up for success in college.

Enhanced Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

Some articles suggest that the challenges and new environments encountered during a gap year can help students develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

Navigating unfamiliar situations and solving real-world problems can enhance an individual’s adaptability and analytical abilities, skills that are increasingly valued in various professional settings.

Consider adding travel, work experience, internships, and volunteer work to make the gap year more productive and give your student or yourself as many new experiences as possible.


Whether or not to take a gap year is a big decision and not one students or parents should take lightly. However, this approach to education is becoming more common and many colleges and universities now support or at least accept students who want to do this.

Make sure to think about all the possibilities and ramifications before making a final choice.

Was This Article Helpful? Tell Us What You Think.