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What is a gap semester (and why you should care)?

Discover how taking time out to travel can boost your personal growth, university success, and career

Door Thom Brown | 09 juli 2024

A gap semester (sometimes called a mini-gap year) is a break that students take from their studies. It can occur after high school or university, but sometimes also takes place during university.

These breaks are shorter than a traditional gap year, typically lasting three to four months. That's about the length of a semester (hence the name!).

Benefits of a gap semester

  • Less disruption: A gap semester won't impact your academic progress in the same way that a full year off could.
  • More affordable: Generally, gap semesters are less expensive than full-year programmes.
  • Flexibility: If you have a full year to spare, gap semesters offer the flexibility to combine different experiences or tailor your break to your interests.
  • Ideal starting point: A gap semester can be a perfect "trial run" for a longer gap year experience.

Why you should consider a gap semester

Student volunteers in Peru

According to the Gap Year Association, 90% of students who take a gap year return to college within one year. 

They also state that those who travel before or during college report ‘Being in a new and different environment’ was the most significant experience, closely followed by meeting new people, travelling independently, and volunteering.

The most significant outcomes are being ‘allowed time for personal reflection’, developing as a person, becoming more mature, increasing self-confidence, and learning more about other cultures.

Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal claims that “burnout from high school” along with a desire to “find out more about themselves” are the top two reasons to travel during your student years.

To summarise, those reasons to consider a gap semester include:

  • Personal growth: Students report significant personal development, increased self-confidence, and greater maturity after their gap experiences.
  • New perspectives: Travelling and volunteering abroad expose students to different cultures and ways of life.
  • Academic benefits: Studies show gap years can lead to better grades and increased job satisfaction after graduation.
  • Career exploration: Over half (60%) of students who take a gap year report it influenced their choice of major or career (the percentage is much higher for medically-minded students).

In some countries, it is even normal to wait a year after high school before heading off to university. In Norway, Denmark, and Turkey, the majority of students take time out after graduating from high school.

It all factors into the general consensus that those who take a gap semester or gap year can quickly become more mature, self-reliant, and independent people as a result. 

That’s more than enough reason to get away and have a good time while remaining firmly focused on your future.

Where do I start?

If you’re still reading this, maybe something struck a chord. Keep reading to learn how we can help you plan the best gap semester or year off.

Your best bet is to go through a specialist provider (like us). They have the knowledge, experience, and connections to save you time and get the most out of your time off.

We’re experts in supporting people like you to make the most of your time away from your studies, whether you have just finished high school or are still in university.

Planning your gap semester

If you’re in need of gap semester ideas, then our Gap Programmes were made for you. These are tailor-made trips for those aged 17 to 24 years old. They are divided into Gap Projects (volunteer work) and Gap Adventures (cultural immersion).

Gap Programmes >

For a more traditional gap year, we offer a 28-week Global Gap Year combining multiple Gap Projects that will take you to Peru, the Galapagos Islands, Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, and Cambodia. It starts in September and ends in March.

Global Gap Year >

If you would like more flexibility, our Flexi Trips offer over 130 individual projects in 20 destinations. You can fully customise your start date and trip durations too.

Flexi Trips >

We’re here to help

Still unsure? Fill out our form to connect with a Project Expert who can help you find the perfect gap semester programme for you.

Keep scrolling if you’re looking for specialist medical experience or you’re still in high school.

Connect with your Project Expert

Get expert advice and support to choose the right gap experience for you! Complete the form below to get help today.

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Specialist medical programmes

If you’re one of those medically-minded people mentioned earlier, you’re in the right place. 

You’ll want to explore our Medicine Projects.

Medical Internships Abroad >

 

High School Specials

Still not finished high school? No problem. Get a head start by completing a High School Special.

These are tailor-made volunteer trips and internships abroad for teens aged 15 to 18.

They’re fully supervised, feature 24/7 support, and are timed to take place during your school breaks.

You’ll be joining other teens from around the world to learn, explore, and make a difference.

High School Specials >

Get in touch

Contact us today to get personalised advice and support.

049 779 99 09

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