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Not every student who takes a structured year off before college will have the same experience, but there are five components to ensure a successful gap year. Ethan Knight, of the American Gap Association, explains that these components include a focus on learning, working with a mentor, and completing a project or paper to reflect on the experience. Knight says a great gap year pushes students out of their comfort zones and helps them to become global citizens, whether they spend their year abroad or within the U.S.

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