Is a gap year too expensive?

Gap years come in a range of prices. While some programs are priced comparably to a semester or full year of college, there are many affordable options. Gappers like Sarah and Ronen worked for a portion of the year to save up for travel. Many gappers utilize work exchanges, such as helpx and workaway, to travel cheaply. Some colleges even have gap year scholarships or free full year programs. Check out this US News article on financing a gap year,  and the Gap Year Association’s financial aid resources.

Will I lose the academic motivation and momentum I've built up?

Many studies have found exactly the opposite. According to the Gap Year Association, 90% of gap year students return to school within the year and statistics from Middlebury College and UNC show that gap year students outperform their peers in terms of GPA. Many gappers, such as Tom and Maddy, felt burnt out by the end of senior year. A gap year is the perfect time to refresh and find new passions, to enter college with an even greater interest in learning. Nan says that if anything, her gap year will make her appreciate school and classes even more. 

Is it safe?

Gap years are what you make of them, in every sense. Between reputable programs and travel partners there are many ways to increase safety odds. When traveling alone, vigilance and research can go a long way. Of course, there is inherent risk in any type of travel (or life, really), but the world is not as dangerous as the news would have us think. Check out some reflections from girls who gap for more advice!

Will I feel behind all my friends who go straight to school?

While this is often a concern, few people finish their years feeling behind. Many gappers, such as Caroline, report that they felt their years were just as exciting and stimulating as their friends’ in college. Others, such as George (now a senior in college), found themselves in a much better position to take advantage of all college has to offer after having a year to explore their passions and refocus.

Will the time be spent productively?

Absolutely! Many people who take gap years find that productivity doesn’t just mean writing papers, taking tests and engaging in structured activity. Almost all of our gappers report their year was filled with new skills, a broadening worldview, and lots of personal growth.

Why not wait until after college when I have more skills?

While some types of work and experiences might be enhanced with a college degree, many more can be just as valuable, if not more so, without one. We are so often taught that “skills” can only be learned in school, and we prioritize this type of learning above all others. You will be amazed by the skills you gain outside of a classroom. It is a special and rare thing to learn to be an adult in an entirely self-directed and independent environment.

Not to mention it is far easier to find a job as a senior in college rather than on your own after a gap year. It is a very rare chance to be able to take a year for yourself with the safety net of certainty and structure to come.

Can I plan the year alone or do I need help?

Some gappers utilize expensive consultants or programs to help organize their years, while others find their opportunities on their own. Gappers like Ronen, who planned his own gap year, report great satisfaction and growth from taking responsibility for each of his 12 months. Gapyearly is here so you don’t have to spend lots of money or valuable time discovering your options. Start planning now.

Should I travel alone or with a friend?

Both are good options and can be equally life-changing. Our gappers have experience traveling alone and with friends, and made their decisions based on comfort level and parental permission. A friend can provide extra security and support, while traveling alone forces you to interact more deeply with your surroundings and the people you meet. Many gappers do a mix of the two.

There isn't one activity or location I feel super passionate about. Does this mean I shouldn't take a gap year?

At gapyearly, we believe gap years can be beneficial for everyone, whether or not you know how you will spend it. Many of our gappers began their years without a full plan, just the knowledge that they wanted to spend time outside of a classroom and enter college more refreshed and directed. Often the best opportunities and experiences were those we stumbled upon or arranged last minute. This can be a year when you discover that place or passion that completes you.