Gap year

A gap year, also known as a sabbatical year, is a normally a 1 year break, but can extend to multiple years, between high school and college/university. During the gap year the previous student normally travels and/or maintains some type of regular work. The main outcome of a gap year includes the increase of maturity so students can better absorb the benefits of higher education or make a better decision in regards to what type of education they which to continue.[1] It can also indicate a break after undergraduate study, before entry into graduate school. Activities range from advanced academic courses, extra-academic courses and pre-college math courses to non-academic courses such as language studies, learning a trade, art studies, volunteer work, travel, internships, sports, cultural exchanges and more. The results of certain studies have indicated that students who take a gap year have improved academics compared to those who do not.[2] A common issue with a gap year is that many parents worry their students will deter the possibility of the continuation of their education.[3]. However, 90 percent of students return to college within twelve months and their academics are generally better than expected.[4]


In 1967 Project Trust sent its first three volunteers to Ethiopia from the UK[5]. In 1972, Gap Activity Projects was founded in the UK and later renamed Lattitude Global Volunteering in 2008[6]. In 1973, Graham "Skroo" Turner set up the company Topdeck, one of the first tour operators. In 1978, the Prince of Wales and Colonel John Blashford-Snell began Operation Drake which what is now known as Raleigh International, an expedition voyage around the world following Sir Francis Drake's route.[7]

In the 1980s, the gap year idea was promoted by Cornelius H. Bull in the United States to allow students more time to grow individually.[8]

By country

Australia and New Zealand

Australians and New Zealanders have a tradition of travelling overseas independently at a young age[9]. In New Zealand this is known as "doing an OE" (Overseas experience). Sometimes this is limited to one year, but at times Australians and New Zealanders will remain overseas for longer, many working short-term in service industry jobs to fund their travels. Europe and Asia are popular destinations for Gap Year travels[10]. In Australia, exchange programs and youth benefits provide many opportunities for young people to broaden their minds Template:Too colloquial and subjective through travel in a gap year; the Gap Year Association provided approximately four million dollars in 2016 in the form of scholarships and need based grants[11]. The concept of the OE is so ingrained in the New Zealand culture that the national tax department devotes a section of its website to demonstrating the positive contribution of OEs to the country.


The Time Credit system in Belgium entitles employees of one year per lifetime of absence from their job, in order to prevent burn-out and to provide an opportunity to pursue other important things in life.[12]


Denmark has sought to limit the number of students who take a year out, penalising students who delay their education to travel abroad or work full-time.[13] In 2006, it was announced that fewer students than before had taken a year out.[14] In April 2009, the Danish government proposed a new law which gives a bonus to students who refrain from a year out.[15]


In Ghana, most senior high school leavers have a year out from August to the August of the following year, although this is not mandatory.


In Israel, it is customary for young adults who have completed their mandatory military service to go backpacking abroad in groups before starting university or full-time work .

Israel has also become a popular gap year travel destination for thousands of young Jewish adults from abroad each year.[16] There are over 10,000 participants in the Masa Israel Journey gap year annually .[17]


The employment practice known as simultaneous recruiting of new graduates matches students with jobs before graduation, meaning sabbaticals are highly unusual in Japan.


While waiting for their JAMB result after secondary school, Nigerian youths usually learn a trade or skill, or enrol for another academic program (remedial, pre-degree, JUPEB, A-levels, IJMB, etc.) to increase their chances of getting into a university.[18]


In Romania, after finishing high school, for some universities an admission exam is required . People who do not succeed in passing sometimes take a gap year to study, usually passing in their second attempt . This is common in medicine and engineering .

South Africa

In the Republic of South Africa, taking a year off is common for those in more affluent classes . School leavers often travel abroad to gain life experience . It is not uncommon for gap year students to travel to Cape Town for life experience . It is not mandatory but fairly common for individuals to volunteer during this time doing animal welfare or tree planting .

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the practice of taking a gap year – seen as an interim period of 7 or 8 months between completing secondary education and starting university – began to develop in the 1970s (“Martin, 2010). The period was seen as a time for gaining life experience through travel or volunteering. Universities appear to welcome post-gap-year applicants on the same basis as those going straight to university from previous education.

The number of students aged 18 opting to defer their university place in order to take a gap year reached a peak of 21,020 in 2008[19]. This figure crashed to 7,320 in 2011[19] – a year before the introduction of greatly increased tuition fees by the Conservative/Lib Dem (Cameron/Clegg) coalition government. Deferrals in 2016[19] were near their peak again although Year Out Group states its members now take more bookings from students outside the UK. Shorter gap style experiences (volunteering, expeditions, courses and work placements) are gaining in popularity, as they can be taken without the need to take a full year out of study or work.

United States of America

In the United States, the practice of taking a "year off" remains the exception, but is gaining in popularity.[20] Parents are starting to encourage their high school graduates to take a gap year to focus on service opportunities.[21] Many colleges, most notably Harvard University and Princeton University, are now encouraging students to take time off, and some have even built gap year-like programs into the curriculum. Several high schools now have counsellors specifically for students interested in taking a gap year.[22] Taking a year off has recently become slightly more common for Americans, with prevailing reasons as a feeling of being burned out of classroom education and a desire to understand oneself better .[23] Some 40,000 Americans participated in 2013 in sabbatical programs, an increase of almost 20% since 2006, according to statistics compiled by the American Gap Association. Universities such as Georgetown University, New York University,[24] Amherst College, Princeton University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Middlebury College,[25] Davidson College,[26] Yeshiva University,[27] and Reed College have formal policies allowing students to defer admission.[23] The Tufts University has a new program that seeks to remove financial barriers that prevent students with no money from taking a gap year after completing secondary to travel or do volunteer work in other countries.[28] Naropa University[29] in Boulder, Colorado, is the first U.S. university to fully integrate the gap year into a four-year undergraduate degree, which makes financial aid directly available to any student considering a gap year.[30]

Some formal gap year programs can cost as much as $30,000, but there are also cheaper alternatives becoming more widely available; some do this by offering room and board .[31][32] For example, the National Civilian Community Corps, an AmeriCorps program, offers 18-24 year olds (no age limit for Team Leaders) an all expense paid gap year (room & board, meals, transportation, etc.) in exchange for a 10-month commitment to National and Community service.[33] AmeriCorps NCCC members travel the country in diverse teams and perform a variety of tasks such as rebuilding trails in national parks, responding to natural disasters or working as mentors for disadvantaged youth.[33] As with most AmeriCorps programs, service members receive an education award of approximately $6,000 upon completion of their service that can be used toward qualified educational expenses or student loans.[34] The zero cost to the member model AmeriCorps offers makes it an attractive alternative to costly gap year programs while leveraging taxpayer dollars to strengthen American communities. Additionally, new federal partnerships such as FEMA Corps offer traditional gap year seekers an immersive professional and team building experience that can serve as a launch pad for their careers.[35] Some government programs designed to help students afford college prohibit students from taking a gap year. For example, the Tennessee Promise program requires that students must "Attend full-time and continuously at an eligible postsecondary institution as defined in T.C.A. § 49-4-708 in the fall term immediately following graduation or attainment of a GED or HiSET diploma; except that a student enrolling in a Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) may enroll in the summer prior to the fall term." [36]Malia Obama, daughter of president Barack Obama, took a gap year before attending Harvard university in the fall of 2017. [37]Universities such as Harvard and Princeton are encouraging students to take a Gap year. This time that is taken off can be beneficial so students don't "burn out" or partake in indulging behaviors that promote unhealthy stress.[38]


In Venezuela, students from elite schools generally do their undergraduate studies outside of Venezuela . Gap years were unknown in Venezuela until educational consultant Nelson Agelvis, then counselor of the Moral y Luces Herzl-Bialik Jewish school in Caracas, insisted on having applicants to US colleges do them . The students went to leadership courses in Israel, PG years at elite US schools, tutorial colleges in the UK, work internships, language centers across the globe, and exploration gap years in remote countries . Today, the practice is widespread and Venezuela is a big economic contributor to the gap year, college studies and English studies industries, especially in countries such as Ireland .[39]


In Yemen, a defer year is mandatory between secondary school (high school) and university. Unless one attends a private university, they must wait one year after secondary school before applying to university. Until the nineties it was mandatory for male graduates to go to the army for one year, and to teach in a school or work in a hospital for female graduates (and for men who cannot attend the army for health reasons).

See also


  1. Taormina, Tricia (4 April 2013). "What's a Gap Year Before College (& Should You Take One)?". Her Campus. Archived from the original on 9 August 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  2. Miller, jennifer. "The Academic and Career Advantages of Taking a Gap Year". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. "Gap year advice for parents: Are they a good thing?". 2010-08-20. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  4. Tinker, Ryan (2018). "Gap Year Data and Benefits". Gap Year Association. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  5. "Our Story | Project Trust". Project Trust. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  6. "Our History - Lattitude Global Volunteering". Lattitude Global Volunteering. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  8. "Center for Interim Programs". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  9. "Travel trends - how Australians travel". Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  10. "Gap Year Destinations". Gap Year. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  11. "Gap Year Data and Benefits". Gap Year Association. Gap Year Association. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  12. "Career breaks". Centre d'Informatique pour la Région Bruxelloise (CIRB).
  13. Andersen, Lars Otto (29 November 2004). "Sabbatår - sundt eller skadeligt?" [Sabbatical - healthy or harmful?]. Berlingske Tidende (in Danish). Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  14. "Stadigt yngre studerende med færre sabbatår starter på universiteterne". Universitet og Bygningsstyrelsen, Ministeriet for Videnskab, teknologi og Udvikling (in Danish). Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.
  15. "Committee proposes cash incentives for speedy students". Jyllands-Posten. The Copenhagen Post. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  16. "The Gap Year: Jews Take on Israel After High School". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  17. "About us". Masa Israel Journey.
  18. "Teens talk about it!". Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  19. 1 2 3 "Year Out Group - Gap Year | Cultural Exchange | Voluntary Work Abroad". Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  20. Castellanos, Sarah (June 9, 2014). "Gap Year Travel Start Up Offers Programs 'Too Good to be True'". Boston Business Journal.
  21. "Learning from the Bruderhof: An Intentional Christian Community". ChristLife. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
  22. Mohn, Tanya (September 23, 2011). "Take a Gap Year, With Your College's Blessing". Forbes.
  23. 1 2 Shellenbarger, Sue (December 29, 2010). "Delaying College to Fill in the Gaps". Wall Street Journal.
  24. "Deferring Your Enrollment". New York University.
  25. "Gap Year Information". Middlebury College. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  26. "Frequently Asked Questions". Davidson College. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  27. Yeshiva University Rankings
  28. "University Supports Student Sabbatical USA". What is USA News. 21 March 2014. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  31. Hoder, Randye (14 May 2014). "Why Your High School Senior Should Take a Gap Year". Time.
  32. Kern, Rebecca (June 9, 2010). "Gap Year Program Profile: Conservation Corps". U.S. News & World Report.
  33. 1 2 "AmeriCorps NCCC". Corporation for National and Community Service. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  34. "Segal AmeriCorps Education Award". Corporation for National and Community Service. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  35. "FEMA Corps". Corporation for National and Community Service. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  36. "Tennessee Promise Handbook" (PDF). Tennessee Promise. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  37. Barnds, kent (2018). "gap year gain". ebsco. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help).
  38. Strauss, Valerie. "Why Harvard 'encourages' students to take a gap year. Just like Malia Obama is doing". Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  39. "Venezuelan students flock to Ireland and cash in on currency controls". IrishCentral. 1 February 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2017.

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