What is a Gap Year?

An experience that prepares you for life

What is a gap year
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.

  • Explore new passions

    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


A word from our alumni

Here are some of the reflections our alumni students 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 on a EF Gap Year program
      Growth Mindset

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

    • Gap Year students with menus at a table
      Empathy & Awareness

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

    • Taking a gap year in Europe
      Life Readiness

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

    • Learning global skills on a EF Gap Year
      Global Skills

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

    EF Education First Ashridge House
    Ashridge House in Herfordshire, England

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

    Interested in traveling with us?

    Your journey begins here.