Students often interrupt their college education for various reasons, such as engaging in professional internships or taking voluntary breaks known as gap years or semesters. While past research has extensively explored the positive labor market outcomes of internships, little attention has been paid to their academic effects, or the impact of gap years, on students. In a comprehensive study examining over 100,000 undergraduate students across 463 U.S. institutions, internships emerged as beneficial, enhancing study habits, GPAs, satisfaction with coursework, future educational aspirations, and career ambitions. Conversely, gap years were linked to negative academic consequences, decreasing study habits, GPAs, satisfaction with college experiences, aspirations for further education, and interpersonal skill development, while increasing the preference for part-time employment post-graduation. The study suggests that institutions should promote and expand internship programs to support academic and career growth, while discouraging or providing disincentives for students considering gap years, highlighting the need for students to evaluate the academic implications before taking such breaks.