What is a gap year?


gap year: a time away from normal routine, for you to experience personal growth through volunteerism, travel and work. 


Gap years have been commonplace in Australia and the United Kingdom for decades.  It is seen as a rite of passage where young adults take time to explore the world before returning back to post-secondary opportunities. Universities recognize and encourage a gap year because they find students start or return to school better prepared, which means higher completion rates.


In North America, gap years are gaining popularity as young adults, their parents and post-secondary institutions are realizing the benefits of taking an additional year to grow and develop before continuing on their path.  For many, a learning experience outside of the classroom through meaningful travel, working in a different country or volunteering gives gappers a greater understanding of the world around them and provides an opportunity for personal development.  A gap year can be a life-changing experience.  We are not the only ones who think so - check out our evidence page to learn more from the experts or our testimonials from mygapyear gappers and their parents.

Why take a gap year?


If you are unsure about jumping right into university, college or a full-time job, consider taking a gap year.  It could be the best year of your life- a time to explore and learn in a new and exciting way!


  • Discover yourself and gain valuable life experience

  • Explore a new purpose or career path that is waiting to unfold

  • Build new friendships

  • Develop leadership skills

  • Gain richer cultural understanding

  • Build personal understanding and global awareness

  • Brush up on a new language

  • Enhance a resume or application form by developing experiences at home or abroad: learning what cannot be taught in a classroom

  • Participate in an unparalleled growth opportunity before making the transition to the next chapter of life

  • Return feeling valued, refreshed and self-confident– ready for the opportunities that lie ahead 


Who should take a gap year?


Gap years can be for anyone but are especially beneficial to people who: 


  • do not feel ready for the next phase of life – ex. going to college, university, or into the workforce 

  • have started on a post-secondary path but do not feel it is a good fit and would like to explore other experiences 

  • are lacking direction; unsure of where life is going 

  • feel burnt out, apathetic or disengaged and need to step away from ‘normal’ life and experience something new 

  • want to develop a sense of autonomy by trying new things that might not otherwise be possible 

  • feel a need to gain a global perspective