The benefits of taking a gap year extend beyond the individual student. Students who take gap years go on to impact the world, and the world needs gappers right now. Here’s why.
1. Virtual learning can't replace experiential learning.
The COVID pandemic has changed so many aspects of society, including increasing our reliance on digital technologies as educational tools. From kindergarten to college, Zoom classes are replacing in-person learning. While technology is an important tool, many students struggle to experience the same benefits through a screen as they do from in-person experiences.
Gap years are rooted in the concept of experiential learning. David Kolb, the psychologist who termed the phrase, defines it as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” Basically, this means that that experiential learning draws lessons from everyday experiences.
From getting lost in Spanish conversation with a new friend on the shore of Costa Rica to navigating through bustling downtown Tokyo, a gap year is filled with experiences—planned and unplanned—that allow you to learn through getting out of your comfort zone and making the most of every moment. After almost a year of virtual learning, many students are looking forward to experiential learning as the world opens back up again.
2. A gap helps you maximize your investment in college.
College is an undisputedly important time in life. While on campus, you engage with peers inside and outside the classroom, have challenging conversations, and are pushed to expand your horizons. The degree itself sets you up for success in both terms of your future career path and the ways in which you navigate the world around you.
College is also a huge investment of both time and money, and making your college decision is a life-changing event. Taking a gap, especially after the past year, will allow you more time to make sure you're making the right college decision for your dreams and goals. You'll have more time to figure out what you're looking for and even get the chance to make the ever-important campus visit (not just virtually!).
A gap year is a great way to maximize your investment in college in normal times too. The maturity and self-understanding that you gain on a gap year help you make the most out of your college experience from day one. Whether it’s finding a new major you never anticipated, feeling rejuvenated after the pressures of high school, or feeling more confident in your leadership abilities, taking a gap is a surefire way to make the most out of your time on campus, now more than ever.
3. The world need global citizens more than ever before.
This past year has pushed us to see the interconnectedness of our world. We’ve seen how important it is that action is taken on a global level to solve the problems we face today. We need the leaders of the future to look at the world from an unconventional and innovative perspective.
A gap is a time for you to engage with the world in a way you might never again. When else will you spend months discovering both the world and your own path within it? This year may look different than it ever has before—it will require you to be intentional, thoughtful, and brave when charting your gap path. No matter where you go or what you choose to do on your gap, you are going to develop a unique perspective on the world around you.
Whether you’re passionate about working in marine conservation, starting your own social enterprise start-up, serving as a college professor, or becoming a global business leader—or if you have no idea at all—a gap year will help you find the path that’s right for you. In turn, you will be uniquely poised to make the world a better place in your own way.