What to Know about Taking a Gap Year

Is your child considering a gap year? Independent College Consultant, Marie Morris, stopped by to tell us what a gap year is and what we need to know if our kids are considering taking one.

You'll find more information about Marie Morris on her blog.

Considering a Gap year? Five things to know

What is a gap year?

  • Time off from school, typically either between high school and college or during college.

  • Experiential education that challenges comfort zones and allows a person to see things from another perspective.

  • Consists of volunteer, study, travel, or work or a combination. Not a "goof off" time!

Why should one consider a gap year?

  • Discover or rediscover passion for learning. Many students feel "burned out" or really don't know why they are going to college.

  • Gain greater confidence and independence, and master life skills, far more than being away at school where meals are prepared, schedules are set, etc.

  • Bridge gap between formal education and real world.

  • Gain perspective of one's place in the world and respect for other cultures and traditions.

  • Outcomes: 90% of students taking a gap year are back in school within a year (American Gap Association); students are more motivated and have a clearer idea of WHY they are in college and what they are studying; 4 year graduation rates and GPA's are higher than non-gap year students (American Gap Association).

When should one take a gap year?

  • Between high school and college

  • During college

  • After college before grad school

  • Can be a summer, month, semester or year long.

Where does one go on a gap year?

  • United States

  • Anywhere in the world!

How does one go about planning for a gap year?

  • Determine what are the goals, why do you want to do this? Fluent in another language, volunteer with children, interest in environment or outdoors, travel?

  • Determine where to go. In the US or abroad? "If you could do anything, what would your ideal gap time look like?"

  • Determine the type of program. Many colleges have programs: Loyola Chicago Rome Start; Portland State Carpe Diem. There are organizations that plan and facilitate gap years: Andeo in Portland; Carpe Mundi provides opportunities for lower income families. Independent gap years for more budget conscious and independent students; Omprkash lists opportunities around the world.

  • Determine budget. Many organizations have scholarships or give college credit.

  • Request deferral. Many colleges will allow students to defer for a gap year. Be prepared to communicate the plan. It is much easier to defer than apply to college while overseas.