What is a Gap Year and What Might it Look Like?

What is a gap year?
A gap year, sometimes known as an enrichment or growth year, is typically a planned hiatus taken by a student before or after attending college, prior to joining a graduate program, or just before an official entry into the world of full-time work.  Students use this time to engage in any number of activities intended to support personal or academic aspirations.  Often the experiences that occur during a gap year are thoughtfully designed with an emphasis on individual growth and self-discovery.

What might a gap year look like?
A gap year is intended to be a personal journey, a short-term opportunity to recharge, refocus, try something new or even develop a new skill. It might also be a necessary time to participate in a short-term work experience with the intent of enhancing an application for a specific graduate program. Despite the name, a gap year can be shorter or longer than a year in length and often depends on the individual’s goals and intentions for the experience. There are a variety of short-term options available to consider and, for every student, a gap year experience will look a bit different.

  • Students may select to participate in an established and structured gap year program or opt for the flexibility that comes with individual exploration.
  • Some use this enrichment year for experiential learning, to develop a valuable new skill and boost their resume in preparation for graduate school or a full-time career path.
  • Some may use the time to reinvigorate their curiosity and cultivate a healthier mental and emotional mindset.
  • Others see this year as an opportunity to give back and support a community, either locally or internationally, through service.

Is a gap year right for you?
There are pros and cons to every decision you make, and a gap year is no exception. It’s important to note that purpose and intent are fundamental components when considering taking this time. While there is an opportunity for this experience to be transformative, an unfocused and directionless year is unlikely to deliver any positive takeaways. You want to look back on your gap year and view it as an experience during which you were able to reflect on what you found meaningful, can demonstrate what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and confidently enter your graduate program or career with a renewed motivation and focus.

Want to learn more?
Attend the upcoming workshop:
“What is A Gap Year, And Is It Right For Me?”
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
1:30pm – 2:15pm
Event link: https://uconn-cmr.webex.com/meet/bes02010

Not sure where to start?
Connect with The Center for Career Development to set up an appointment with a Career Coach


Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
By Caitlin Cincotta
Caitlin Cincotta