The Gap Year Experience – Why You Need It.

Are you excited about college? College is a good place to meet new people from different backgrounds and with unique interests that are different from yours. It increases your chances of meeting new people in your potential career field, and knowing the right people can catapult you to a higher level in life.  College is amazing, right? But have you ever thought about the gap year experience? Gap year is a the time a student takes off school to pursue other things apart from education. This time can be spent traveling, doing a paid work, volunteering, completing an internship, learning a new language and experiencing myriad other activities that aid in personal growth.

Typically, a lot of students in Kenya take the gap year after graduating from high school and before attending college, but taking a gap year while in college is also recommended, and it is slowly becoming popular. It is great to take the gap year just before college, but it is advisable to take it once you start college, to give you a chance to explore other opportunities in your choice of career and understand how things work beyond the classroom. While taking a gap year has compelling reasons, one of the major reasons why a student should make use of a gap year is to explore their interests and find a purpose in life, by simply taking a break from intensive class work and focusing on other life experiences that will enrich their life.

Completing a gap year, either traveling, volunteering or doing some paid work, or a blend of all three brings about a revitalized youth, ready to face the academic world with renewed energy and zeal. David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counselling, noted that taking a gap year has the power to help a student succeed in college as it helps the individual to remain more focused, mature and motivated for their academic experience upon return. Many a youth who take the gap year realize that it allows them to be helpful to the people around them, especially those that choose to volunteer in their communities.

Some of the benefits of taking a gap year include:

Enlightening Cultural Exchange

Cultural exchange helps in understanding each other’s values and norms

What does cultural exchange mean to you? Cultural exchange is the sharing od different ideas, traditions and knowledge with someone from a completely different background as you. Cultural exchange gives a student an opportunity to learn about other cultures, and appreciate why they behave the way they behave. Cultural exchange can be as simple as learning to say hello in another language or being brave enough to try new food. Even colors can hold different meanings in different parts of the world. This gives the student another perspective about the world, with new and fresh ideas about the future and a knowledge of the world around them.

Making a Difference in People’s Lives

Gap year gives you a chance to create a positive and lasting change in people’s lives

During the gap year, students can take advantage of the free time they have to make a significant difference in people’s lives. This can be done through volunteer work, or starting up some community projects like mentorship programs that are meant to improve the lives of the people within the community.

Leaving a Positive Impact in the Environment

Students can use the gap year to stay aware of the social issues and inequities as well as the deformities present in our society and learning how to amend them. They can also engage in programs and activities that improve quality of life, and others like environmental care and management, like tree planting, that leave the environment happy.

Gap year gives a student enough time to grow in maturity and confidence, as well as self-sufficiency. Whenever you realize you are getting slow in your academics and your zeal to study is running on empty, that could be a cue to take a gap year. It gives you time to find yourself and figure out what you want to do with your life.

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