Gap Year: British Tradition, American Trend?

For most college-bound high school students there is a conventional blueprint that connects senior year of high school to freshman year of college: throw graduation cap in air, get menial summer job, start higher education when the leaves begin to change. Is this all there is?
The gap year, a British tradition, stands in opposition to this American formula, and could be the next travel trend for American students seeking a cultural education to complement their academic education.

A gap year is a break from schooling that customarily takes place between high school and college or right after college graduation before entering the work force or grad school.

The break provides a reprieve from the rigors of full-time education, giving students the opportunity to develop socially and experiment with their interests without the pressures of higher education.

The most common gap year activity is travel: backpacking through Europe, Asia and South America are staples of the gap year experience.

However, not all students use the gap year to trek around the world. Many use the opportunity to engage in volunteer work, while others choose to accept internships that relate to their future college studies.