What is a Gap Year?

An experience that prepares you for life

It's your year

The transition from high school to college is one of the most important ones we ever make. In the face of big life decisions ahead, the most precious resource we have is time: time to grow, explore, and figure out what we’re really working towards before taking on our futures.

Enter: the gap year. Rather than being an alternative to college, a gap year is about preparing yourself to make the most of college—and in many ways, the rest of your life.


1. Recent survey conducted by the American Gap Association
2. Recent Middlebury College/UNC Chapel Hill study

  • Explore a passion

    Pursue interests that can’t be explored within the walls of a classroom. Taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to work on skills and projects that are meaningful to you.

  • Become your best self

    Grow into a more confident, independent and resilient version of yourself. 96% of students who took a gap year reported feeling more confident and mature.2

  • Gain a competitive edge

    Enter college a stronger applicant: more socially and academically prepared, with life experiences under your belt. Gap year students earn higher GPAs, take on more leadership roles, and graduate faster—compared to national averages.1, 2

  • Define your life path

    Gain perspective and greater clarity about your goals and inner compass. 60% of gap year alumni say their gap year helped define their career path, and 77% report finding their purpose in life.1


EF's Class of 2020 wants to tell you something

Earlier this year, we wrapped up our spring term. Here are some of the reflections the 2019-2020 cohort shared about why they took a gap year, how they've changed, and the friendships and memories they've made.


Educational philosophy

EF Gap Year prepares students for success in our increasingly globalized world. Our educational philosophy celebrates travel as a pathway to understanding and self-discovery, focusing on these four key outcomes. Learn more here (PDF).

  • Growth Mindset

    Learn how to chase curiosity rather than a need for approval, value process over results, and see challenges as growth opportunities.

  • Empathy & Awareness

    Gain personal skills essential for success—such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability.

  • Life Readiness

    Lay the foundations of adulthood, from building good habits to developing a clearer sense of self.

  • Global Skills

    Acquire the intercultural skills highly sought after in today’s global economy.

Ashridge House in Herfordshire, England

Spend your time during Leadership Academy at Ashridge House reflecting on your EF Gap Year or Semester.

Get ready to take on the world

During your gap, we’ll provide all the tools and opportunities you need to decide who you’re going to be in this world.

Gap Year Program
  • Immersion Tours

    Dive into your gap experience with action-packed tours of Europe and Oceania.

    More Info
  • Language Study

    Take an immersive language course in the city of your choice. Study Spanish, Italian, French, German, Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese. Available as part of any program.

    More Info
  • Service Learning

    Collaborate with local social enterprises to support community efforts in Latin America, Africa, or Asia. Available as part of any program.

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  • Internship

    Live and intern in your choice of international cities and experience 9 to 5 working life. Available as part of EF Gap Year and Semester.

    More Info
  • EF Leadership Academy

    All EF Gap programs culminate in a week of reflection, workshops, and seminars led by experts in business and international relations.

    More Info

Have questions? Our gap year consultants have answers.

Contact Us