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Missing_StudentNot so long ago, new high school grads looked forward to college. Diplomas in hand, they were ecstatic for their official initiation into adulthood and ready to start training for the real world.

Now the tide is changing. Instead of stressing about SATs and sending in college applications, many fresh high school grads are saying ‘I need a break.’ They’re delaying the stress of choosing the right school and tackling the demands of college life, often to spend a year or two soul searching. As a result, the popularity of gap-year programshas grown. According to Ethan Knight, executive director of the American Gap Year Association, enrollment in gap-year programs grew 27 percent from 2012 to 2013 alone.

Some view students who take a gap year as indecisive or lazy, but studies show the opposite. After taking a year off, gap-year students at Middlebury and the University of North Carolina performed better academically than their non-gap-year peers, with GPAs that were between .1 and .4 points higher.

Convinced you want to take a gap year? Here are the top reasons you should take a gap year through Winterline’s Global Skills Program.

1. Experience the world in one incredible year. 

It’s impossible to choose just one corner of the world to explore. There are countless exciting cultures waiting to be experienced.

That’s why we’ve chosen 10 countries for our gap-year program. You won’t be held back by any specific location. Our students get the chance to experience various cultures and meet all kinds of people — from Central America to Southeast Asia, India to Europe and North America. They go places students traveling alone might not venture, do things they never imagined themselves doing, and take away valuable skills few people can say they possess.

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2. Travel with the experts.   

Winterline’s regional field directors know the countries they travel to inside and out — they’re not tourists. We choose directors who are intimately familiar with the local culture, the people, and the lesser-known perks of each area.

Our team is passionate about helping students discover their unique passions and talents. They’ll challenge you and help you grow as a person. They come from backgrounds as diverse as the countries we explore and have the expertise to guide you along your journey to self-discovery.

3. Expect the unexpected.

Winterline students learn how to survive in the wilderness with only the most basic items. They try their hand at sustainable farming. They discover the art of Thai cooking and become confident negotiators.

Your experience in our program will expand your horizons. We’ll push you outside your comfort zone, but you’ll adapt and thrive there, realizing you’re capable of much more than you ever thought possible.

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When you eventually apply for college or pursue other ventures, you’ll be ready with the skills and knowledge to take on the future.