Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Considering a Gap Year?

                        Five things to know about Gap Year Programs

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.