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A gap year is time out to travel between life stages. It is also known as a sabbatical, time off, time out and a year out, referring to a period of time (not necessarily 12 months) in which people disengage from curricular education and/or work and undertake activities such as traveling, volunteering or working abroad.
In the field of college applications, a gap-year is a year taken between high school and college. During this gap-year, students engage in extra-academic and non-academic courses, language studies, volunteer work, travel, internships, sports and more, all for the purpose of improving themselves and their resumes before going to college. These academic gap-years are also called Pathways, Prep-Year and Bridge-Year.
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.
In 1967, Nicholas Maclean-Bristol set up the educational volunteering charity Project Trust and sent three volunteers to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
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.
In 2010, a deferred year increased among school, college and university leavers, as this is seen as an attractive option for future career development. Conversely, 2011 saw a decline in the number of prospective students from the UK taking gap years due to the competitiveness of courses and the imminent rise in university fees.
A year out has grown very popular among students in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A trend for a year out is to travel, volunteer and working abroad, which may include participating in international education programs that combine language study, homestays, cultural immersion, community service, and independent study.
By country 
Usually, around 2% of Australians take a year off prior to attending tertiary education and choose to travel abroad (usually South East Asia or Europe) or within Australia backpacking.
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. In 2006, it was announced that fewer students than before had taken a year out. In April 2009, the Danish government proposed a new law which gives a bonus to students who refrain from a year out.
In Ghana, all Senior high school leavers have a year out from August to the August of the following year although this is not mandatory. Brilliant students can avoid this one year break by taking the private high school final exam in their second year instead, before graduating in the third year.
In India, the practice of taking time out to travel 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.
Israel has also become a popular gap year travel destination for thousands of young Jewish adults from abroad each year. Gap year enrichment programs are designed for Jewish students following high school graduation. Students use this opportunity to study Judaism, Israel, and learn Hebrew (in some cases for college credit). These trips provide opportunities for educational travel, leadership development, community service, and Jewish life experiences. There are over 10,000 participants annually who take a Masa Israel Journey gap year.
United States 
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. Universities such as New York University, Amherst College, Princeton University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yeshiva University, and Reed College have formal policies allowing students to defer admission. In recent years, there has been an increase in 21-23 year-olds taking time off after completing their degrees.
In Yemen, a defer year is obligatory between secondary school and University. Unless one attends a private University, one must wait one year after secondary school before you can apply 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).
See also 
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Gap year travel|
- The Center for Interim Programs
- Gap year travel
- Andersen, Lars Otto (29 November 2004). "Sabbatår - sundt eller skadeligt?" (in danish). Berlingske Tidende. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
- Stadigt yngre studerende med færre sabbatår starter på universiteterne, Pressrelease, Universitet og Bygningsstyrelsen, Ministeriet for Videnskab, teknologi og Udvikling (Danish)
- "Committee proposes cash incentives for speedy students". Jyllands-Posten. The Copenhagen Post. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
- Beyond Year Gap Programs
- , About Masa Israel Journey.
- SHELLENBARGER, SUE (DECEMBER 29, 2010). "Delaying College to Fill in the Gaps". Wall Street Journal.
- Deferring Your Enrollment
- Yeshiva University Rankings