Gap year

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In the professional or career world, a gap year is when one stops their formal work life to pursue other interests, generally unrelated to their regular line of work. It is also known as a sabbatical year. However, today gap year refers mostly to a year taken between high school and college. During this gap year, students engage in advanced academic courses, extra-academic courses and non-academic courses, such as yearlong pre-college math courses, language studies, learning a trade, art studies, volunteer work, travel, internships, sports and more, all for the purpose of improving themselves in knowledge, maturity, decision-making, leadership, independence, self-sufficiency and more, thus improving their resumes before going to college. These gap years are also called pathways, prep-year and bridge-year.[1]


The practice of taking time out developed in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. During this time, a student might travel, engage in volunteer work overseas or undertake a working holiday abroad.[citation needed]

In 1967, Nicholas Maclean-Bristol set up the educational volunteering charity Project Trust and sent three volunteers to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

In 1972, Gap Activity Projects was founded in the UK and later renamed Lattitude Global Volunteering in 2008.

In 1973, Graham "Skroo" Turner set up the company Topdeck, one of the first tour operators.

In 1978, the Prince of Wales and Colonel John Blashford-Snell began what is now known as Raleigh International by launching Operation Drake, an expedition voyage around the world following Sir Francis Drake's route.

In the United States, the deferred year idea was promoted by Cornelius H. Bull, in 1980.[2]

In 2010, taking a deferred year increased among school, college and university leavers, as this is seen as an option for future career development.[3]

By country[edit]


In Venezuela, since 2006 a massive exodus of students from elite schools across the nation has been taking place, with these students doing their undergraduate studies outside of Venezuela in order to flee the country's violence and political instability. Gap years were unknown in Venezuela until they became heavily promoted as an alternative by educational consultant Nelson Agelvis, then the counselor of the Moral y Luces Herzl-Bialik school in Caracas, mostly for transition and adaptation purposes. Initially the students went to a leadership course in Israel. Later, they branched out to PG years at elite US schools, tutorial colleges in the UK, work internships, language centers across the globe, and exploration gap years in remote countries. Today, most Venezuelan students from the country's elite schools take a gap year as a regular part of their career development, making Venezuela one of the biggest economic contributors to the gap year industry, reason for which many language centers and gap year providers publicize themselves heavily to the upper-class market in Venezuela.


Denmark has sought to limit the number of students who take a year out, penalizing students who delay their education to travel abroad or work full-time.[4] In 2006, it was announced that fewer students than before had taken a year out.[5] In April 2009, the Danish government proposed a new law which gives a bonus to students who refrain from a year out.[6]


In Ghana, most Senior high school leavers have a year out from August to the August of the following year although this is not mandatory.


In India, the practice of taking time out after high school education, popularly called a drop year, has been on a steep rise in recent years, primarily students deciding to enroll in coaching institutions to prepare themselves for rigorous college entrance examinations, including the IIT-JEE, the entrance test for the Indian Institute of Technology as well as in medical stream. However, utilizing that year off for travel or non-academic courses etc. is still not common.


In Israel, it is customary for young adults who have completed their mandatory military service to go backpacking abroad in groups before starting university or a career.

Israel has also become a popular gap year travel destination for thousands of young Jewish adults from abroad each year.[7] There are over 10,000 participants annually who take a Masa Israel Journey gap year.[8]


The employment practice known as simultaneous recruiting of new graduates matches students with jobs before graduation, and the practice of a sabbatical is unusual in Japan as a result.[citation needed]

United States[edit]

In the United States, the practice of taking a "year off" remains the exception. Taking a year out has recently become slightly more common for Americans, with prevailing reasons as a feeling of being burned out of classroom education and a desire to understand oneself better.[9] Some 40,000 Americans participated in 2013 in sabbatical programs, an increase of almost 20% since 2006, according to statistics compiled by the Association of American Gap Year. Universities such as New York University,[10] Amherst College, Princeton University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yeshiva University,[11] and Reed College have formal policies allowing students to defer admission.[9] The Tufts University has a new program that seeks to remove financial barriers that prevent students with no money to take a gap year after completing secondary to travel or do volunteer work in other countries.[12]


In Yemen, a defer year is obligatory between secondary school and University. Unless one attends a private University, he must wait one year after secondary school before applying to University. Until the nineties it was mandatory for male graduates to go to the army for one year, and to teach in a school or work in a hospital for female graduates (and for men who cannot attend the army for health reasons).[citation needed]

Republic of Korea[edit]

In Republic of Korea, Gap year is defined as time for the youth to deliberately think about directions of their lives by going through Gap year program such as voluntary activity, career exploration, education, internship and enterprise while he/she pauses studying. (The source of definition is Korea Gapyear, co-founder Sijun An)

Republic of South Africa[edit]

In South Africa a year off is common. This is specifically for more affluent classes. School leavers often travel abroad for getting further life experience. It is not uncommon for gap year students in South Africa to go to Cape Town to get life experience. It is not mandatory but fairly common for individuals to volunteer during this time doing animal welfare or tree planting.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gregoire, Carolyn (10 April 2012). "Tips For Taking The Road Less Traveled With A Gap Year". Huffington Post. 
  2. ^ The Center for Interim Programs
  3. ^ Gap year travel
  4. ^ Andersen, Lars Otto (29 November 2004). "Sabbatår - sundt eller skadeligt?" (in danish). Berlingske Tidende. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  5. ^ Stadigt yngre studerende med færre sabbatår starter på universiteterne, Pressrelease, Universitet og Bygningsstyrelsen, Ministeriet for Videnskab, teknologi og Udvikling (Danish)
  6. ^ "Committee proposes cash incentives for speedy students". Jyllands-Posten. The Copenhagen Post. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1], About Masa Israel Journey.
  9. ^ a b SHELLENBARGER, SUE (December 29, 2010). "Delaying College to Fill in the Gaps". Wall Street Journal. 
  10. ^ Deferring Your Enrollment
  11. ^ Yeshiva University Rankings
  12. ^ "University Supports Student Sabbatical USA". What is USA News. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 2013-12-19.