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About Gap Years

A gap year, also known as a bridge or sabbatical year, is usually a break in studies taken by students between high school and college.

Gap years can take many forms. Students may choose to work, travel, intern, volunteer, perform military or religious service, or just take time to explore their interests and rejuvenate before starting their college career.

Students who take gap years consistently report that that year between high school and college is one of the most meaningful of their lives. They often see in themselves an increased self-awareness, a greater appreciation of cultural differences, and a developed sense of citizenship–qualities beneficial to themselves as learners and as members of their communities. Universities also recognize the value that gap years have for the academic, emotional, mental, and social development of their students.

[I gained] an understanding of my own interests, drive, and place within a global context. Taking a gap year gave me a significant increase in confidence as well as my capabilities and intellectual curiosity, allowing me to find greater success once I arrived at Duke. – Michael, Class of 2020, Economics Major

[Through my Gap Year] I gained confidence in my ability to adapt to any environment, which made my transition to college much easier. I did not have the same anxieties about fitting in and adjusting that I may have otherwise. – Erin, Class of 2020, Public Policy and Cultural Anthropology Major


It’s up to you to plan your gap year; we don’t have approved or recommended programs. We encourage you to check out the Gap Year Association‘s resources to help you think about the possibilities.

National organization providing resources and guidance on developing your gap year plans.