4 reasons to consider a gap year abroad

Sara's take:

In Fall 2008, I was all set to attend the University of Cincinnati's law school -- until the moment I decided I wasn't and subsequently deferred my place.

Instead, I hopped on a plane to undertake a gap year in Ireland at a time when "the book" (as in, living by the book) said I should've been at law school orientation (or if nothing else, looking for a job to start paying off those student loans).

But what happened next was an experience more memorable and more vital to the person I am today than any other.

Sure, I never made it back to law school, but my gap year set in motion a series of events that would lead me on the right path toward a career in international education as well as defining the kind of person I wanted to be.

Heck, the fictionalized version of events of that gap year even became a book (perhaps one day a movie?).

So I'm really excited to introduce this week's guest post from Rebecca Barr, the Strategic Partnerships Manager for EF Gap Year, who shares four reasons to consider a gap year of your own (though I'd recommend doing it prior to having to repay all those student loans!).

Written by guest blogger Rebecca Barr

When I made the decision to take a gap year back in the day, I had no idea of the types of experiences and opportunities it would open for me.

Now working in international education, I love seeing the ways that our gap alumni grow and bloom!

If you’re even remotely considering a gap, here are some of the ways that your gap can set you up for success throughout your life.

1) Gain skills you need for the real world

Taking a gap is a great way to cultivate some of the skills that will help you make the transition from high school to your next steps in college and beyond.

In today’s world, skills like adaptability, cross-cultural communication, critical thinking, and a growth mindset are some of the most important skills for young people to nurture, both for their own development and for their future career paths.

These soft skills will help you navigate a world where life paths are breaking away more and more from a linear path.

Developing these skills will allow you to “bloom where you’re planted” –- to be able to make the most of any situation you encounter, anywhere in the world.

2) Move from an “I should” mindset to an “I choose” mindset

In high school a lot of students feel pressure to make decisions based on what they feel like they “should” be doing.

For example, maybe you joined that club to make yourself look more competitive on your college applications, or you took that extra AP class because your parents thought it might set you ahead of your peers in college.

Taking a gap, on the other hand, is all about learning to make decisions based on what drives you, what inspires you, and what allows you to make your mark on the world in your own unique way.

By going abroad, you get to see the way other cultures and societies live.

Whether you’re in Stockholm or in Shanghai, you’ll encounter a lot of things that are new to you: new ideas, new lifestyles, new environments, and new opportunities.

Seeing the way other people live can help you adjust your own trajectory and your own priorities to make sure you take your next steps in life with clarity and confidence.

3) “Prototy