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The UnCollege Blog

Celebrity Gap Years

Slowly but surely, gap years are gaining popularity in the US. Both parents and students alike are beginning to realize that young adults, especially those gearing up to go to university, are ready to travel, learn, and have an unsheltered, real world experience. Gap years are proven to be a major factor in the growth of some students, even some of the most famous names out there. While you may not have peers that have experienced just how great a gap year can be, here’s a list of celebrities who have:


Prince Harry and Prince William

Both Princes of the Royal Family took a year to travel, study, and immerse themselves in a foreign culture. Prince Harry decided to take a gap year before working and traveled to Australia and Africa, certainly stepping outside of his normal comfort zone. His work in the southern African country of Lesotho played a very important role in trying to provide access to healthcare and education for children. Meanwhile, Prince William decided to travel to Chile to work in rural villages to help local communities build schools and teach English. This is an experience he would never forget. “meet a whole range of people from different countries, and at the same time help people in remote areas of Chile”.


J.K. Rowling
The British author is one of the most successful writers in literary history, penning the world famous Harry Potter series. But most people don’t know that she took her year off to travel, teach English, and work on what would be the beginnings of Harry Potter. She wound up in Portugal, taking time away after the passing of her mother. Almost immediately, her year off had an impact on what she wrote – her story matured, and she ended up with one of her favorite chapters that she’s written.


Mike Myers

Though he played some of TV and Film’s most memorable characters in Austin Powers and Wayne’s World, Mike Myers took a year after high school and moved to the UK. Once in London, he traveled the country and eventually became a founding member of The Comedy Store Players, a UK-based improv group. After starring on the British TV show Wide Awake Club, Myers eventually returned to Canada to join the world famous Second City comedy club in Toronto. His gap year provided him the perfect opportunity to hone his craft and would eventually become the catalyst for his wildly successful career.


Benedict Cumberbatch

BBC’s Sherlock took his gap year in India, where he taught English at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Though completely separate from what would become his career, his gap year taught him plenty, especially about “the simplicity of human nature, but also the humanity of it”. That spirituality eventually helped him in his acting career, gaining valuable personal experiences to learn from.