Still considering travel this summer? Enroll up to 8 days before programs depart! Explore Programs by Departure Date
Why You Should Take a Gap Year
All Articles

Why You Should Take a Gap Year

It’s probably pretty obvious how we feel about taking a gap year, so we thought for this post we would let a Rustic alum tell you why you should consider world travel over a college classroom. Here is what Aline Aronsky has to say about taking the plunge and choosing gap.


I didn’t know I would take a gap year until I was weeks away from applying to college.

When I was an innocent high school freshman, gap years seemed like a truly terrifying prospect. What changed?

1. A gap year gives you a break from high school

High school was a roller coaster ride for me. A whirlwind of grades, lunch meetings, schedules, sports tournaments, teachers, and drama left me drained. I felt like high school had chewed me up and spit me back out with such force that the only option I had was to curl up and go to sleep.

A gap year gave me time to breathe. It was extremely rewarding to take a break from all the stress and focus on myself.

2. A gap year gives you time for yourself

This is one of the only times you can focus on yourself without worrying about schoolwork or a job.

In school, I did everything for other people. I did service so it would look good on my college application. I joined a club so I could get a good recommendation letter from a teacher. I studied so I could get good grades and go to a good college. A gap year gave me the chance to do what I genuinely wanted to do: travel and see the world.

3. A gap year will give you confidence

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face college. Making new friends? Forget it. After only three months of my time off, I feel infinitely more confident about myself. I feel ready to face all the challenges of living on my own. I’ve become an expert at adapting to new places; moving into college seems like a breeze.

4. A gap year will help you pick your career

Most of my friends took a gap year because they didn’t know what they wanted to study in college. After trekking the mountains of Dharamsala and mixing cement in Cambodia, most of them have a better idea. There’s something about spending three months away from the world and focusing on yourself that teaches you more than any “Which Career is Right for You?” quiz ever will.

5. A gap year will teach you about life

The amount I learned from taking a gap year is unbelievable. I met a Tibetan monk who was imprisoned by the Chinese government because he spoke out against its human rights violations (he was interviewed on Humans of New York). I debated ethics with a man who only wears one pair of clothes and has his entire life’s possessions in a backpack. I interviewed a woman who built a special needs home in India from the ground up. I spoke with a man who narrowly escaped the killing of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Looking back, I realise that I could never have learned that much by reading about it in a text book. The only way to truly experience those things is to go out and do them.

Photo courtesy of Aronsky (on right)


If you want to read more about Aline’s adventures during her gap year, check out her blog. Also, if you’re interested in taking a Rustic Pathways Gap Year, make sure to apply for one of our scholarships

About the Author

Katey Finnegan