What Is a Gap Year?

For graduates fresh out of high school, entering college, the business world or the missions field can be both an exciting and chaotic time. Many use the time as a season of searching and find the lack of traditional classroom structure, community of close friends, and strong parental support to be nearly a detrimental challenge.

The gap year is designed to combat this.

A “Gap Year” is a transitional season – typically falling in-between high school graduation and the start of college – where young adults discover growth and develop their professional experience outside the traditional classroom.

This vital year of growth gives young adults a chance to travel, volunteer, or intern before transitioning to college or the work field; allowing them to create space between their grade-school world and the rest of their lives.

Over the last decade, gap year programs have widely grown in popularity. Studies show that the benefits of taking time to reflect, volunteer and even travel can sharpen a young adult’s vision for their future.

Students who participate in gap year programs find an overwhelming sense of support as they transition into the world of adulthood. Each year, more and more young people make the decision to press “pause” and make an intentional choice to set their life on the right path.

Why Pursue a “Gap Year?”

  • According to the American Gap Association, students who take a gap year, “overwhelming report being satisfied with their jobs.”
  • A reported 90-percent of students who decide to take a gap year go back to school.
  • Gap year students are more likely to get into the college of their choice.
  • Students who take a year off before starting college perform an extra .15 to .20 points higher on a four-point grade point average.
  • Gap-year students report higher levels of motivation than students who start college immediately after high school graduation.

A Gap Year That’s Right for You

At RVA LEADS, students will experience a blend on-the-ground experience with Christian ministry, discipleship training and leadership development. Our passionate staff with decades of young adult ministerial experience between them are trained to coach young adults along in the decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.

While other college programs boast a fifty-to-one ratio between students and faculty, our RVA LEADS team will provide students with extensive one-on-one mentorship. Through this coaching, students who complete the program will be given the time and attention they need to form their gifts into their mission.

RVA LEADS has successfully graduated several classes of students and launched them into the mission field, various job markets and undergraduate careers as stronger Christ followers. The experience they have within our program is an invaluable pause to a whirlwind that is life as a twenty-something.

Ready to Learn More?


"The feedback from students almost all the time has been that this experience was transformative. The more life experience you bring, the better off you are in school."
William Fitzsimmons
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
Harvard University