By Lili Jimenez, Career Concierge 
A well planned Gap Year either during your college years, after High School graduation, before graduate school, or before you jump into that brand new career or full time job can be a very exciting and enriching opportunity.

While on an international flight on American Airlines I read an article in the airline’s magazine AMERICAN WAY written by Sarah Zobel called CREATING A GAP that I found really insightful. In the article, Ms. Zobel describes how students returning from a Gap Year are eager, ready to learn, and well equipped to go back to school. In the case of persons taking part in the program before they embark in a career, she describes how fulfilled they come back, because the year is not focused on earnings at all, but on goals, experiences, and on the pleasure of learning.
Ms. Zobel cites studies which show that college students returning from Gap Year do better in school and obtain higher GPAs. In addition, post graduate students that have completed Gap Year are more satisfied with their careers. It is believed that the reason for this is because of the exploratory nature of Gap.  Colleges and Universities are very supportive of this program, and enjoy welcoming back their “gappers”. According to Harvard College 80 to 110 freshmen defer enrollment each year to do a Gap Year. Princeton’s Bridge Year Program sends incoming freshmen for 9 months to India, China, Senegal, Peru or Brazil tuition free, funded by alumni donations and university resources. Elon University in North Carolina offers a service-learning Gap semester for credit.
Before you take a year off and enroll in Gap Year think of the reasons why you are doing it. Is it that you what to explore your choices? Want to consider your options? Enrich your life? Help other humans? Volunteer your time for a cause? Some examples cited in the article are, working in a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, caring for children at an orphanage in Ghana, or helping Buddhist monks create a middle school curriculum. You can stay in The United States and may join Habitat for Humanity, help migrant workers, teach English to non-English speaking children or adults. 
Besides exploration, additional awesome benefits can emerge from Gap Year. You can travel, learn a new language, experience a different culture , help the needy, find yourself, set goals for your future, focus and discover  what you really like, and do service-learning.
At the Toppel Career Center, Samantha Haimes is the advisor that assists with Gap Year. Ms. Haimes helps students that have questions on identifying what options best suit them. Students can go on our website http://www.HireACane.com to make an appointment with her, as well as checking out resources such as GoinGlobal, and our guide http://issuu.com/ffb105/docs/alternativeoptionsguide?e=1554994/2655205
Others companies to reach out to:
American Gap association   www.americangap.org

The Center for Interim Programs   www.interimprograms.org
EnRoute Consulting www.enroutegapyear.com

LeapNow   www.leapnow.org
National Outdoor Leadership School   www.nols.edu
Pacific Discovery   www.pacificdiscovery.org
Princeton University Bridge Year Program   www.princeton.edu/bridgeyear (for incoming Princeton students only)
Thinking Beyond Borders   www.thinkingbeyondborders.org
Where There Be Dragons   www.wheretherebedragons.com