It was recently announced that Malia Obama would be taking a gap year before moving on to attend Harvard University in 2017. The ‘gap year’ is a real thing, and according to the American Gap Association, it is defined as an experiential semester or year “on,” typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional and personal awareness.


what is a gap year
Chart citing respondents’ most significant influences in deciding to take a gap year. Photo: American Gap Association

It is not uncommon for people to choose to take a year off after completing high school or undergrad for some reason or another before going to a university or pursuing a post-graduate degree. It can have several benefits, including time for a collective “woo-sah” from the burnout, saving money, or tying some loose ends before diving headfirst into an intense continuing education program.

what is a gap year
Reported outcomes from gap years, broken down by color based on personal, global engagement, career and college. Photo: American Gap Association

The biggest worry with taking advantage of a gap year is the feeling that the individual might lose motivation to go through with their academic plans and might get too complacent in the “real world.”

We want to hear your thoughts. Have you taken or considered taking a gap year? How did it shape your future? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!

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