1.Introduction. wished to explore possible career paths, and 41%

1.Introduction.

Over
the last ten years the gap year has become a recognized, institutionalized and
professionalized phenomenon (Simpson, 2005). In many countries, there is an increasing
trend for young people, whom, after leaving high school, delay their higher
education, leave home, pack their bags and set out to explore the world,  to learn
outside the academy.
Traditionally a gap year represented a break
from formal education or employment in order to find time to engage in
”extra-ordinary” experiences. An estimated 200,000 British people aged 18–25
annually take a gap year.
The practice of the gap year has expanded considerably
in the last ten years, with a corresponding rise in its public and
institutional profile. (Dean 1999).  They seek for advanture, which is a chance to
live independently in a world far different from that they ever known. Many
students choose to take an international volunteering gap year, spending a year
in a developing community teaching or doing social work. It is advantageous for
students to take a gap year as they can gain a great amount of knowledge and
experience, which help them succeed not ony in their hgigher education but also
in their future jobs. This paper, based on secondary data, will discuss the
reason why students take a gap year, the benefits studens can gain when they
choose this path and some suggestions to have an efficient year off2.Discussion of findings2.1. The reason why students take a gap year A recent survey by the American Gap Association (AGA) revealed that 92% of gap year participants wished to gain
new experiences, 85% wished to explore new cultures, 81% wanted a break from
academics, 48% wished to do volunteer work, 44% wished to explore possible
career paths, and 41% wanted to learn a language. So, while taking a break
is part of
the equation, most students want to learn and grow during their gap years. Spending a year away from home is an appealing idea to
nearly everyone. (Whitehouse, 2013). Findings indicate that students take a gap year for many reasons,
reflecting their various statuses
in life. A recent survey by the American Gap Association (AGA) revealed that 92% of gap year participants wished to gain
new experiences, 85% wished to explore new cultures, 81% wanted a break from
academics, 48% wished to do volunteer work, 44% wished to explore possible
career paths, and 41% wanted to learn a language.
According to
Zurcher’s idea of the compensatory function of volunteer work (Zurcher 1978), gap year takers intended to use experience to obtain a
variety of perceived benefits, often to develop skills, perspectives, and
traits that they felt they lacked and had not been developed in school.

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Specifically, people tend to
use the gap year as a ‘break from education’ or the ‘academic treadmill’ or to
get out of a ‘bubble’ or ‘sheltered life’. They want
a time to be grown-up, and some use the gap
year as a rite of maturity. One student
reported: ‘I want to figure out who I am independent of my parents and
community’, while another said he wanted the year to gain the ‘independence to
make decisions and to live on my own’ (O’Shea,2014). Takers
desired to develop a broader or different perspectives of the
world, deepened understanding of other cultures and
languages, and to clarify future life plans (e.g. degree
course, career goals and where to live). For some, they did a gap year
partially because they felt young for their year in school, to have the
pleasure of travel and friends, or to enhance curriculum vitae for university
admissions or employers. However, for some students, the
year was motivated by the desire to escape from their home environment, family
problems or mental health disorders (e.g. depression),
at that situations, they consider a year off as a treatment2.2. Benefits of
taking a year offStudents considering gap years
may wonder: is a gap year worth it? The AGA survey shows that gap year
participants had very positive experiences. They consistently praised their gap
years, saying that the gap year experience: allowing time for personal reflection (98% of students), increasing
maturity (97% of students), and increasing self confidence (96% of students).To begin with, the biggest advantage of taking
sabbatical to explore the world is that it gives them an opportunity to
discover their career interest. Such trips are not only fun , but also
 gives  them  a chance  to  socialise , engage in
volunteering, and understand global issues  and global culture . This
helps them to discover their real passion which is the foundation stone for a
fulfilling career (Jones 2004). When they do begin their courses, having
clearer goals motivates them to study, and their generic skills enable them to
organise their time effectively (McMillan 2005). For
instance, data from Harvard University, 2010, pointed out that drop-out rate
from university courses is around 10 percent less in those children who chose
the course after taking a “gap year” in comparison to those who headed straight
to university after the high school.In addition to this, working for a year before
starting university reduces the financial burden of higher education to an
extent. As the advanced studies are costly in most countries, working for a
year helps them in saving money so they have to borrow less money and are under
less financial debt, when they start higher studies.Learning and exploring
new activites such as volunteering, taking part in community work, joining
local clubs, learning foreign languages, etc, is also a benefit associated with
a gap year. These new activities help students learn new skills which are
applicable to their futures lives in college and workplace. Working with the
community and other people makes students appreciate and understand their
culture and also boosts the confidence of students because they have chances to
communicate with people of diverse ages and knowledge. Moreover, travelling and
learning new languages make students more sociable. All these skills and
quanlities gained as a result of going abroad or working as volunteer can help
in dealing with problems in universities and raise one’s professional
experience. The valuable work experience
they gained or the lessons they learned from their travels will improve their
career prospects. And when they are ready to start work after finishing
university, they will have employers queuing up to hire them. 

Ultimately, gap years are a fantastic opportunity for students of
all calibers. Taking a gap year is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Later in adulthood, you cannot spontaneously go on a year-long adventure, so
what better time to do this than when your brain is youthful, malleable, and
untethered?

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