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.