According to the Gap Year Association, taking a break before or after university has numerous benefits for the student.
There are reams of anecdotal and qualitative data on the positive reasons for taking a gap year and these include such things as:
Greater ownership of the student's education
Greater global awareness
Fluency in a foreign language
The self-confidence earned from successfully completing a gap year
Universities have reported that students who have taken a Gap Year engage more in campus life and are statistically more likely to graduate on time.
Students have reported that their year away helped them socially and gave them something interesting to say in conversations, in essays and in job applications. They felt that their year away helped confirm their choice of career and academic major, and it added to their employability.
If you are planning on taking a gap year, make sure that you have a good gap year plan and that whatever you do is worthwhile, has value and will feed into your course. There are lots of fabulous gap year websites which can give you an idea of great things to do on your year off.
The British schools we spoke to in Grand Cayman were all very much in favour of students taking a gap year. The schools stressed that they would always be available to help past students with their applications, and they keep all their references on file.
Gap years are also becoming increasingly popular in the US and colleges such as Harvard particularly encourage this practice.