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Gap Year Abroad Is The Perfect Last Minute College Decision

by River Bennett
For students who are not especially excited about spending the next year in a bunch of classrooms, a Gap Year abroad is the perfect solution.

College acceptance season has come and gone and perhaps your prospects for next year aren’t looking so hot. With the fall approaching, what are your last minute options?

  • You could choose to enroll at your 7th choice school and start spending your hard-earned savings and credit score on tuition and loans.
  • Or, you could take a year off, live with your folks, work at a local pizza joint and save up some more money.
  • Maybe take a long road trip to the nearest surf beach (your parents are really going to love this one.)

There is a much better plan available to you! It is called Gap Year Abroad.

Taking the right kind of Gap Year happens to be the responsible choice, the fun choice, and the SMART choice – all in one. Here are some reasons that a gap year abroad is the perfect last minute solution to your college woes.

Real World, Real Skills, Real Fun

The “real world” applications you get during your time in college are quite limited. College is kind of like high school without the rules. You get to have a lot of fun, but unless you are supremely focused, you might not learn much that will be useful after you graduate. I know – your counselor probably never mentioned this to you. We can keep this a secret between us.

United Mint Campus female student working on a laptop, while casually having her feet on another chair – Gap Year.

A UMC Gap Year student developing a schedule for a film shoot.

A Gap Year program, on the other hand, puts you in the middle of the action by placing you directly into exciting projects. Want to design the social media strategy for a Michelin Star restaurant? Or how about producing your own documentary on the local culture? Or maybe designing your own fashion line is your goal? Well, you can while on a gap year.

Picking up these essential skills is obviously only half of the experience. The adventure of living abroad manifests itself through the new foods you’ll try, vibrant festivals you’ll attend, and new destinations you’ll visit – not to mention all the new friends you’ll make along the way. If college years are “the best years of your life,” then the Gap Year is “the best year of your life times 10.”

Clothing designed by a Gap Year student hanging on hip racks at a gallery boutique.

Maybe designing your own fashion line is your goal? Well, you can while on a gap year.

You Can Leverage Your Gap Year To Get Into A Better College

You may not know that a Gap Year experience can even get you into a better college. According to Business Insider, “Harvard has seen a 33% increase in the number of students taking gap years.”  Focusing your time during gap year on a particular passion or interest shows admissions committees that you’re willing to put in the work necessary to advance in your field.

Thanks to the growth in online education, you can also use the time while you’re on Gap Year to take classes. Imagine yourself on a Spanish beach or a Swiss ski slope, pulling out your laptop for some International Politics 201. Yes – it’s as glamorous and awesome as it sounds. And yes – that’s what a productive Gap Year looks like.

In addition to all of these things, colleges are encouraging their admitted students more and more to take a year off. Why? Because Gap Year students demonstrate more maturity, a sharper focus on their goals, and even higher GPAs on average. The bottom line is that with the experience of a gap year under your belt, you can revisit your top choice schools on your college list.

It Puts The World At Your Fingertips

Let’s not forget one of the top reasons you are taking a gap year abroad: the travel experience. While travel options may be limited where you grew up, living in a European city gives you amazing access to some of the top destinations in the world. Go surfing in Spain. Hiking in France. Dog-sledding in Sweden. These are all reasonable (and reasonably cheap) excursions you can make from your Gap Year home base. They are often just a $50 flight away.

United Mint Campus female Gap Year student dancing with an umbrella in Barcelona’s old town at night.

A UMC gap year student doing the happy dance in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.

Pick Up Experience And Connections

You can spend weeks reading about how to hit a great tennis forehand. But it won’t get you very far once you pick up a racquet and try it. That’s because it’s just about impossible to perform well if you don’t have any experience to back it up. No muscle memory.

The same thing goes for your work experience. Confidence arises from applying what you’ve learned. If you care about architectural design, for example, the time spent working with a landscape architect during your gap year will show a unique level of maturity that can only come from first-hand experience. Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group made this clear by pointing out that:

“While a polished resume and portfolio are essential for securing a job interview, professional work experience has become increasingly critical for entry-level applicants in a competitive hiring environment.Pursuing internships or temporary work is a great way for students and recent grads to learn, acquire skills, and prove to potential employers they can contribute right away.”

Find Your Passion And Chart Your Path

The opportunity to figure out your mission in life does not come from a freshman dorm or lecture hall – quite the opposite in fact. A gap year can help you design your larger lifetime trajectory. It gives you the space to identify your life’s passions – career and otherwise.

The time away from a traditional classroom gives you the freedom to try new things. It is easier to plan ahead and chart your goals once you have identified what excites you.  And reaching those goals will be much easier with the skills you pick up on your Gap Year abroad program.

United Mint Campus offers a skills-based Gap Year where you leave with project management, leadership, and communication credentials. Wherever you decide to spend your Gap Year, make the most of it!

River Bennett is an RTA at United Mint Campus, a graduate of The University of Virginia, a DJ and an avid surfer preparing to enter a graduate program in Nuclear Engineering.

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