The New Year is behind us, and so begins Gap Year Season!
While seniors have put their college applications behind them, there may be a feeling of wow; the next step is almost here… am I ready for a heady academic experience quite yet? Or is there something else I would like to accomplish before embarking upon university experience. These are questions that seniors often ask me, as well as some juniors. This begs the question, what about a Gap Year?
Parents are becoming familiar with this term, though there are several definitions, and most boil down to the fact that it is a time of structured and intentional exploration generally between high school and college (and sometimes a break from college) to step out of a traditional learning experience to explore a passion, see the world, and as Kathy Chang from Dynamy and Director of USA Gap Year Fairs so perfectly stated in the IECA INSIGHTS Newsletter this month: “reflect on personal values and goals, and prepare to take the next purposeful step in life.” It is time on, not time off.
Qualified Independent Educational Consultants and Gap Year Specialists can assist with the multitude of opportunities for ‘Gapping’ and do an inventory of interests to determine a great Gap Path. The sky is the limit regarding options from domestic or international options, group or individual options or a combination.
The biggest question and concern parents might have concerns their student not returning to school, he or she will continue wandering. I share this data along with the idea of… who chose the age of 18 to attend university? Other countries, students often are 19. There is data from Middlebury conducted by Bob Claggett (http://collegeadmissionbook.com/blog/bob-clagett-taking-gap-year) indicating that students returning from a Gap Year will be far more focused on their studies and complete university within four years, not only that, these students may have a better time choosing their major. In addition, there is also information that there is less ‘burn out’ from these students as well. Soft data from interviews indicate that these students come back with confidence and may take leadership roles in their universities.
How does a Gap Year work if a student has determined that this is the path they wish to take? First, it is helpful to attend the USA Gap Year Fair, or speak to a consultant with experience. Still keep those college applications active and wait for the response. Once the response comes in, contact admissions and find out how to defer the year, and then begin the Gap Year launch.
Encourage families, even if perhaps the applications are in, and they are set on college to attend USA Gap Year Fair. Encourage Juniors, even Sophomores to attend:
Web site and additional information:
USA Gap Year: http://usagapyearfairs.org/
And remember, safety first. American Gap Association (http://www.americangap.org/) has some excellent thoughts and questions regarding safety. Remember: SAFETY First
Books worth a read:
From the American Point of View:
Haigler and Nelson: The Gap -Year Advantage Helping Your Child Benefit from Time off Before or During College
Haigler and Nelson: GAP YEAR American Style Journeys Toward Learning, Serving and Self Discovery
From the British Point of View
O’Shea, Joseph gap year how delaying college changes people in ways the world needs
Vandome, Nick PLANNING YOUR GAP YEAR Hundreds of opportunities for employment, study, volunteer work and independent travel