5 Reasons Why Your Gap Year Will Better Prepare You For College

Not everyone understood where I was coming from when I told them I wanted to take a gap year.  They thought I was just stalling on going to college, or maybe that I wouldn’t end up going at all.  But I knew that wasn’t the case, and what I found was that my gap year actually enhanced my college experience upon my return.

Here are my five reasons why I think you should consider a gap year too!

 lexi 1


1.  You’ll become a citizen of the world.

While your fellow high school grads are reading about the world in first year English/History/Sociology/Political Science/Etc. classes, you will be living in it.  Your gap year will empower you to be an advocate for your country, which in turn, will teach you about the way you, as an American, fit into the global community. This will be a valuable perspective to bring to your own first year college classes when the time comes.

2.  You’ll break out your comfort zone (in some very delicious ways)

There are many things that you will look forward to in your life of independence in whatever may come after high school.  Expanding your palate and exploring new foods however, is much easier when you’re studying abroad than it will be in your college cafeteria.  Even the Princeton Review doesn’t have top ranked colleges known for their delicious French Alpine tartiflette, or fresh gnocchi with pesto from eastern Italy, or farinato sausage from Salamanca, Spain.  When you do head to that college cafeteria, you may find yourself more inspired to try that spicy sesame peanut tofu, since your time abroad gave you an appreciation for trying new foods.

3.  You’ll learn how to be independent and overcome challenges

The experience of learning to succeed in challenging situations is particularly applicable to this stage in your life. Juggling papers and tests and homework assignments, while also trying to make new friends and make your new school feel like home is a challenging endeavor. The experiences that you will have abroad will be incredibly valuable for when you have to face those dreaded term papers in your first year at college. Whether it is immersing yourself in a new culture, or needing to buy groceries in a foreign language, study abroad can definitely be a series of challenges to overcome. Learning to live on your own while also learning a new culture and a new language as well as planning your own travel and managing your own money will certainly prepare you for handling things that come across your path in college.


Lexi 2


4.  You’ll experience a close-up view of art and architecture

I always used to say that I would have been an Art History Major had gone to school in Europe.  There is something about seeing the pieces firsthand that makes an immense difference in the way that you experience the art.  Living in places with architecture that dates back hundreds of years is different than learning about the places in a classroom.  Having curators at famous museums for your teachers, or learning reasons behind why your favorite church or café was built, makes the subject one that you can live rather than observe.  It makes them tangible, and experiential.  You cannot be passive while experiencing art and architecture abroad.

5.  You’ll gain different perspectives

When I first traveled abroad for my gap year, I knew I had to take a history class.  Having learned what I could in my years of school in the US, and enjoying most of my history classes, I was interested to see what the difference in perspective would be when learning history elsewhere.  You often hear the old adage “History is written by the victors”, and while that may or may not be true, there is something to be said for the perspective you gain when you learn the same history taught from another country’s perspective.  While the events are the same, the way the stories are told is drastically different.  And just knowing this can change the way you view what you learn.


There are countless reasons to study abroad, and a gap year is a great opportunity to go out and experience the world.  I was able to take what I learned abroad, and contribute to conversations and classroom discussions in ways I never would have been able to with just my experiences in my hometown.

This post was written by Lexi A., who took part in an Aspire by API gap year program in Grenoble, France.

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Jul 30, 2021 @ 16:16
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