Mennonite Mission Network staff

​Why you should consider taking a gap year for service 

gap•year /'gap:year/ n  A structured period of time when students take a break from formal education to increase self-awareness, learn from different cultures, and experiment with possible careers. Typically these are achieved by a combination of traveling, volunteering, interning, or working. A gap year experience can last from two months up to two years and is taken between high school graduation and the junior year of their higher degree. 

Taking a structured gap year invariably serves to develop some of the non-cognitive skills that current research are showing  predict success better than IQ. Some of  these categories that are being pioneered collaboratively include: motivation, optimism, grit, and conscientiousness.

The highest three rated outcomes of gap years is that of gaining "a better sense of who I am as a person and what is  important to me" followed by "gave me a better understanding of other countries,  people, cultures, and ways of living" and  "provided me with additional skills and knowledge that contributed to my career  or academic major."

90 percent of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year.

Students who have taken a Gap year overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs. Researcher Karl Haigler found that this was related to a less-selfish approach to working with people and careers.

In today's work environment, people who work best with others - denoted often times as  Emotional Intelligence (EQ rather than IQ)—tend to be more  successful. In all regards, a gap  year will challenge the student to work better with a more diverse array of people. 

For most students, gap experiences have an impact on their choice of  academic major and career — either  setting them on a different path than before a gap year or confirming their  direction (75 percent said the gap-year experience "helped (or will help) me find a job."). 

Taking a one-year break between high school and college allowed nearly three-quarters of students who took a gap year to be better prepared for college.

Gap Year Association, Gap Year Association National Alumni Survey, study of 863 students in 2014–2015, 

's a gap year



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