How to Make the Most of your Gap Year

There are a lot of opportunities to explore when you take a gap year. Students, learn new languages, invent apps, work in part/ full time jobs, create companies, and most importantly travel. According to the American Gap Association ( over 85% of gap year students (“gappers”) wanted to travel in order to see the world and experience other cultures. 

Regardless of the motivation, the time off can be helpful. Srini Pillay, M.D., Harvard psychiatrist, academic adviser, and author of Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused, can relate a number of advantages students may have as a result of time spent away from academia during a gap year.

In his book, he outlines exactly how time off such as a gap year can benefit the brain. Some examples include activating the default mode network of the brain – what he calls its unfocus circuit. This area of the brain increases creativity, improves memory, enhances a sense of prediction about the future, and re-energizes the brain.According to Pillay, “Time away, even when it seems irrelevant, can enhance creative solutions because the brain has time to shuttle around old memories, recombine puzzle pieces, and invent new and fresh approaches to life.”

The American Gap Association surveys alumni to gain further insight into the benefits of taking time between high school and college. The most recent reports show that:

• More than 80 percent of respondents said they would recommend a gap year to someone who was considering it.

• The most meaningful experience for the majority of respondents was being in a new and different environment.

• Also important was the increased exposure to new experiences.

• Gappers may even get better grades when they get to college. Undergraduate students who had taken a gap year before enrolling earned 0.1 to 0.4 higher GPAs than students who didn’t, according to studies conducted by Robert Claggett, former dean of Middlebury College.

Overall, gap years can be extremely fruitful if planned well. Having your parents or a gap year counsellor help you plan your year may help greatly increase your chances of making the most of your year! Contact us for more information about how to plan a gap year.