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Gap year: Time off, with a plan



—NUTSHELL:
Whether it’s to travel, work, or consider your next move, taking time off can be fulfilling. Having a plan can help you avoid pitfalls.


—SNIPPET:

After high school, Matt Hendren needed a break. “I’d had a really full academic year,” he says. “I was a little burned out and not so eager to get to the next academic step. I knew that I wanted to go to school, but I wasn’t fired up about it just then.”

So Hendren deferred his admission to the University of North Carolina and spent 2 years working for City Year Boston, an AmeriCorps-funded program. The experience, he says, helped to reinvigorate him and get him excited about returning to school.

People like Hendren take time off from school or other endeavors for different reasons—and at different points in their lives. This transitional period is often called a “gap year.” Read this article for help in deciding whether to take a gap year and how to make the most of your time off.

The next few pages describe what a gap year is, including its pros and cons. Another section has tips for planning a successful year off. Suggestions for more information are located at the end of the article.

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: December 10, 2009