Recent research has shown that the benefits of a gap year are profound and extend across multiple areas. See, for example, Joe O’Shea’s book, Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs, which reports that student performance in college improves for those who have taken a gap year, especially for those students who are on the lower end of the grade distribution when they apply to college. The reasons are tied to a number of less tangible factors, including personal growth, increased maturity, and academic and personal focus. Students who have taken a structured gap year are actually more likely to graduate with a higher GPA than students who went on to college directly from high school. So what are you waiting for? Take some time to decompress, explore your interests, travel, volunteer, and find your direction in life. You could spend a fulfilling year exploring new ideas and places rather than muddling your way through a first year of college, unsure of what you are doing there!