Gap Years are more than for students who aren’t “ready for college.”
And while many bonafide Gap Year students are indeed either burnt out of traditional academia or simply not clear about what they want from four years at a university, the impression that a Gap Year is not a precursor to college is simply false: indeed, within one year of completing a Gap Year, 90% of students are actively enrolled in a four-year institutions. The earning potential, educational benefits, and access to higher education’s resources are very obviously in the benefit of any student who avails themselves of a higher education – and thus you’ll find that almost every Gap Year educator is highly encouraging and supportive of students to benefit from their time away, and then ultimately to find their way back to a university education.
Any kind of student can take a gap year.
It is also for anyone interested in doing so, not just students (families, groups and parents included!)
A GAP YEAR HELPS STUDENTS GAIN VALUABLE SKILLS AND FOCUS
A student can explore many different areas of interest during a gap year, weaving combinations of experiences together for varying lengths of time.
COLLEGES ROUTINELY ACCEPT STUDENTS WHO TAKE GAP YEARS
The prospect of taking a successful Gap Year needs to both recognize the benefits and challenges inherent for the student, and also honor those of the family / parents as well.
MANY SERIOUS, SUCCESSFUL STUDENTS TAKE A YEAR OFF BEFORE COLLEGE
Taking a Gap Year can very much be seen as an opportunity for the student to take more ownership of their life rather than following the “Cradle to College to Cubicle to Cemetery Cycle” (http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com).
SAFETY IS A TOP PRIORITY IN GAP YEAR PROGRAMS
Reputable gap year providers recognize student safety as their top priority. It is through the support and guidance of homestay families, emergency services, program staff, volunteer staff, that students have the freedom to explore, learn, and grow independently.
In essence, the putative rights-of-passage of taking a Gap Year has anecdotally been a blessing for both the student, and the parents in terms of creating some real-world circumstances both where the parent literally can’t simply come to the rescue, and where the student is “set up for success” to navigate real-world chalenges and problems successfully, to learn and grow from them. Gap Years are growing in popularity and notoriety.
Currently, there are some very compelling reasons to take a Gap Year:
- A desire “to find out more about themselves.”
- Burnout from the competitive pressure of high school.
- In-the-world experience builds self-confidence and independence.
- It is easier to take this kind of time to explore interests during one’s student years.
- Students can explore interests hands-on and potentially pinpoint a passion
- There is a natural break between high school and college.
- Students gain concrete skills and generate more effective resumes.
- Students have a hand in choosing and creating their lives for a year.
- There is a chance to focus outward, be of service, and gain a sense of relevance of classroom study to the world.
- The added maturity and life experience from a gap year makes for an easier transition to college and, later on, from college into the work world.
And while we here at Horizon Family Solutions feel that almost everyone has something to gain from taking a Gap Year, the choice to do so is perhaps the most important aspect of taking a Gap Year. The student’s decision to take a Gap Year is both a declaration, often times, of creating their own path rather than taking the one that’s in front of them. Thus, in conversation with a student, parents must understand that to get the most benefit of a Gap Year – much as in life – the student has to take ownership in their decision to take one: it can’t be a mandated by the parent.