Considering Gap Year Study Abroad Programs? Gap year programs may possibly help you to gear up for college (or take a much-needed breather after high school). But you might be wondering what exactly does a gap year study abroad program entail, and how might this experience help prepare you for future goals? We’ll answer these frequently-asked questions and more, below.

What are gap year study abroad programs?

Gap year programs abroad are likely familiar to most students in the United Kingdom, but American students may also be gaining awareness of this practice. A gap year simply means taking some time off between high school and college, often to travel or pursue an area of personal interest. Students may request their colleges to defer admissions so they may take the year to experience other cultures, volunteer, or pursue a personal passion. For example, you could spend the year learning Mandarin in China, volunteering in South America, or backpacking through the great cities of Europe!

Gap years can be a lot of fun, but they may also be an opportunity for developing confidence, self-awareness, and intellectual growth. For example, students opting for a study abroad gap year might find themselves learning more about their strengths, professional goals, and desired area of study. By volunteering in a developing country, you may discover a passion for public health, social work, or foreign policy. Or, by exploring the world’s natural treasures, you might find that environmentalism or preservation is the career path for you. Whatever your interests, there is sure to be a gap year experience that is perfect for you!

Why take a gap year abroad?

By the time you graduate high school, you’ve likely been attending school for at least twelve years straight! Between your classes, extracurricular activities, social life, and personal obligations, there may not have been a lot of time for self-discovery. So, it’s hardly surprising if you’re not quite sure what to do with the rest of your life. For some students, a gap year may serve as a chance to mature and experience life a bit more slowly. You might choose to make a difference through volunteering, immersing yourself in another culture, or meeting other people whose life experiences could newly inform your world view.

Students unsure about what direction to pursue may view a gap year as an opportunity to reflect on their future life choices. They may seek answers to questions like, “What am I best at?” or “What should I study in college?” A gap year is what you make of it, so everyone’s goals and expectations will be different.

Could my college potentially allow a gap year study abroad program?

That depends on the college or university you are considering! Some colleges may view a gap year as a valuable opportunity for students to explore their passions, gain some perspective, and develop personal maturity before beginning college. In fact, some colleges may even encourage gap years or offer gap year programs geared toward earning potential course credit. Often, students interested in taking a gap year apply to prospective colleges as high school seniors. Then, they may request to defer their admissions in order to carry out a gap year plan. Alternatively, some students may decide to apply to colleges after the gap year is complete, or even take a gap year abroad as a break in the middle of college. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. However, you may find it helpful to discuss your plans with your high school guidance counselor or college admissions officers.

A gap year is an individual experience, and it means something different to everybody! Be sure to explore a variety of gap year programs to get a feel for the activities and experiences you could pursue during your own gap year!

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