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For many adolescents, college is their first time away from home. Even if they are happy and excited about it, college life comes with a lot of stress. There will be many new things to get used to: roommates, cafeteria food, professors, deadlines, to name a few. Instead, leaving home for a gap year will be much easier and more beneficial in a few different ways.

1. New Experiences

Even if you're from a family that travels a lot, traveling on your own is different. With your family, you have a big safety net. No doubt, you stay in a hotel your parents have paid for and they will make sure you don't get lost in the subway or lose all your money. Even if you have seen new sights and experienced new cultures, you have done it from the security of family.

As you know from the family travels you've made, new experiences change your brain in good ways. That mind expansion is also going to make you be able to take in your college experiences easily.

However, traveling on your own in Europe, or even with a group of peers, will have a totally different feel. Assuming you are not participating in a college-run gap year, you will either be making your own money somehow or working at a pre-arranged internship. There are pros and cons of a gap year, but the cons are very few.

2. Independence

Now is the time of the helicopter parent. In the past, parents better prepared their children for life. Now parents just want to protect them from everything. So it's your job to go out and learn these things on your own.

During high school you may have had a part time job. Unless you had the strict kind of parents, you were free to do what you wanted with it. It was probably pocket money for you, or if you had your own car, gas money. But you certainly didn't need it to feed yourself or to pay rent.

Your parents were not going to let you become homeless or starve to death, and you knew that. A job in Europe is different. You will need to learn how to budget, which is a skill most college students haven't learned. Budgeting and staying within your means might be the most important life skill you will ever learn and you won't learn that in college.

Most college students never even see real money. Their parents have already paid for their tuition, housing and meal plan. College students don't have the experience of deciding at the end of the month whether they should eat, or pay the electric bill because they overspent at some point

3. Resilience

In the past, did you call on your mom when you felt sick? Did you ask your dad to pick you up if you lost your ride home after a house party? Even though you will likely have friends in Europe, you will know deep down that everything is up to you. It's your responsibility to eat right and keep yourself healthy. If you do get sick, no one is going to take your temperature or provide you with medicine and hot soup. You will need to learn to be ready for such mishaps so you can take care of yourself.

Did you do your own laundry at home? You will now. Did you ever cook at home? You will now. Did you learn how to keep your space clean? You will now if you want it to be presentable when your new friends visit.

This is probably the second most important skill to learn after budgeting. Too many teenagers and 20 somethings have relied on their parents so often, they don't know how to do much of anything practical when they're on their own. Some people never really do learn how to keep a clean house or perform any laundry tricks.

Despite any previous explorations in Europe, you always came home to your familiar neighborhood and school. You briefly saw how another culture lived, ate and what they did for fun. You observed it, but you didn't really live it.

Spending a year in a European city, you will live like the natives. If their language isn't English, you will even come away with a second language.

4. Better Prep for College

Sometimes your mind gets stuck in a rut. The typical American high school student's brain is probably in the rut of school, sports, fashion, music and the opposite sex. You will have new and various thought paths away from home.

Your safety net will be gone (not completely, of course) but it will appear that way since you won't be sleeping in the family home every night.

When the year has ended and you are about to start college, you will be miles ahead of the other non-gap-year students. You should not listen to anyone who tells you that a gap year will put you behind your peers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

They will spend their first semester, if not their first year, getting used to being away from home, living with strangers and eating strange food. They will most likely have issues taking care of themselves, budgeting their time and money and learning how to trust the right people. On top of that, they will have to learn how to study at a much more intense level than they did in high school and to channel their test anxiety into something more productive.

Guess what? You will have become an expert at most of that. All you will have to learn is the intensity of studying and taking tests. You will already know how to take care of yourself and be away from home.

An added bonus to this is that if you were in a non-English speaking country, you are now pretty much an expert on that language. Take that language course as an elective and ace it.