Gap year

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In the professional or career world, a gap year is a year before going to college or University and after finishing high school. It is also known as a sabbatical year. During this time students may 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.

Gap years are sometimes urged as a way for students to become independent and learn a great deal of responsibility prior to engaging in university life.[1]


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]


Male Singaporeans are conscripted for 2 years.


Denmark has sought to limit the number of students who take a year out, penalising 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]


The Time Credit system in Belgium entitles employees of one year per lifetime of absence from their job, in order to prevent burn-out and to provide an opportunity to pursue other important things in life.[7]


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 secondary school education, popularly called a drop year, has been on a steep rise in recent[when?] years. Student have been primarily 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. Utilising that year off for travel or non-academic courses is still not common.[citation needed]


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.[8] There are over 10,000 participants annually who take a Masa Israel Journey gap year.[9]


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]


Nigerians typically enroll for a year long National service after college. It starts with a 3-week paramilitary boot-camp, from there, they are posted to a Government institution for the rest of the year.

United States[edit]

In the United States, the practice of taking a "year off" remains the exception, but is gaining in popularity.[10] 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.[11] Some 40,000 Americans participated in 2013 in sabbatical programmes, an increase of almost 20% since 2006, according to statistics compiled by the American Gap Association. Universities such as New York University,[12] Amherst College, Princeton University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yeshiva University,[13] and Reed College have formal policies allowing students to defer admission.[11] The Tufts University has a new programme that seeks to remove financial barriers that prevent students with no money from taking a gap year after completing secondary to travel or do volunteer work in other countries.[14]


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 programme such as voluntary activity, career exploration, education, having a relationship, internship and enterprise while he/she pauses studying.


In Venezuela, students from elite schools generally do their undergraduate studies outside of Venezuela. Gap years were unknown in Venezuela until educational consultant Nelson Agelvis, then counselor of the Moral y Luces Herzl-Bialik Jewish school in Caracas, insisted on having applicants to US colleges do them. The students went to leadership courses in Israel, 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, the practice is widespread and Venezuela is a big economic contributor to the gap year, college studies and English studies industries, especially in countries such as Ireland.[15]


In Ecuador, students are increasingly spending their gap year exploring ecotourism opportunities in the Galapagos Islands, but employers will not accept candidates wearing dread locks, piercings, or ripped clothing, so gap year workers will typically consent, though reluctantly, to keeping their hair short and wearing two- and three-piece suits (males) and formal evening wear (females) while leading hiking tours, for example.[16] Generally, employers will not discriminate against body piercings that are not generally visible, such as frenum piercings, which are becoming more popular.[17]

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.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom a year out is a common choice before university, again to travel or volunteer, gaining life experience. All universities seem to welcome gap year applicants, no different from going straight to university from previous education.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taormina, Tricia (April 4, 2013). "What's a Gap Year Before College (& Should You Take One)?". Her Campus. 
  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. ^ Homepage of the Brussels-Capital Region Portal, Centre d'Informatique pour la Région Bruxelloise (CIRB)
  8. ^
  9. ^ [1], About Masa Israel Journey.
  10. ^ Castellanos, Sarah (June 9, 2014). "Gap Year Travel Start Up Offers Programs 'Too Good to be True'". Boston Business Journal. 
  11. ^ a b SHELLENBARGER, SUE (December 29, 2010). "Delaying College to Fill in the Gaps". Wall Street Journal. 
  12. ^ Deferring Your Enrollment
  13. ^ Yeshiva University Rankings
  14. ^ "University Supports Student Sabbatical USA". What is USA News. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ YFU USA Intercultural Exchange Program (Ecuador)
  17. ^ Costume and History in Highland Ecuador, by Lynn A. Meisch, University of Texas Press, 2012.

External links[edit]

Rainbow VolunotursGap Year Volunteering In India