A gap year is a natural break in the educational process after high school for students who would like to explore interests before embarking on another four plus years of school. Many students have been engaged in education since pre-school – resulting in 15 years of an educational experience. More students are taking the time to discover who they are and what they would like to do with their life. They are getting off the educational treadmill to gain a direction and focus in their life. A gap year can help a student discover a passion, build self-confidence and independence, and explore opportunities through hands-on learning.
- You may be tired of school.
- You may want to do something to enhance your college application.
- You will appreciate education more if you take a break.
- You may decide not to further your education.
- If you are in another country, it may be more difficult to apply to college.
- You will not have the support of your counselor to help you through the college process.
If you decide to take a “gap year” before starting college, it is best to apply to college during your senior year of high school. After you receive an acceptance to the college, you can request to have the acceptance deferred for one year. Most colleges will allow you to do that, whereas some may ask you to reapply.
In planning a gap year, it is important to have a structured plan in place, similar to a school year. Students will often break the year into two semesters or three trimesters and include some time working to offset the cost of some of the more costly programs or save for their college education. A gap year is for students of all levels of ability and interests. Opportunities are endless. Students can experience internships, volunteer service, travel and language immersion programs, outdoor/farming/conservation/sustainable programs, the arts, helping children and developing skills and training in the building trades, cooking, sailing and as scuba and EMT instructors
Things to Consider Before Taking a Gap Year:
- Why do you want to do a gap year?
- What do you hope to learn from your gap year?
- What type of program are you considering – local, national, international?
- What is the emphasis – academic, volunteering, internship, teaching, getting certified in a skill, etc?
- What is the cost, is it a factor and how can I help supplement the cost?
- What type of health insurance do I need to have to make sure I am covered for emergencies?
- What is the health requirement (vaccinations) needed?
- What are safety issues I need to be aware of when travelling?
- How will I stay in touch with my family and friends?
- How will I adjust to culture shock going and coming home?
Here are some suggestions:
- Community Service
- Volunteer Work
- Foreign Exchange Program
- Explore career interests
www.gapyear.com: Information on various programs around the world.
http://www.leapnow.org/: Information about what the gap year is and programs available.
www.theleap.co.uk: Information on gap year programs and understanding your options.