A “gap year” is a deliberate time out between high school and college (or between other life stages), usually for the purpose of service, travel, work, exploration, and the like. Although it is often a year, it could also be as short as 3 months.

The concept originated in the U.K., where as many as a quarter of all high school graduates participate each year. For the past 10 years the idea has been gaining ground in the U.S. as well and, following Harvard and Princeton’s lead, many colleges and universities are now encouraging young people to defer enrollment for a semester or two in order to take a meaningful gap year.

Some gappers venture off on their own, while others join structured programs (such as MTGI’s). Whichever route a gapper takes, it is important that she or he prepare a well thought-out plan in order to make the most out of the time. An effective gap year will be life- changing, providing many opportunities for self- and world discovery, infusing the subsequent college experience with energy and focus.

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