It is summer time, and families are taking a break from their busy school-year schedules to try some new activities, visit new places and build stronger relationships. These benefits can be had by students who take a “gap year” too. A gap year is usually thought of as a year-long break between high school and college, but there are other ways to have a gap year experience. In this blog, I will share with you my gap year adventures and what I learned as well as a list of gap year options for your students.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my gap year preparation began during the summer between my sophomore and junior year when I was a Rotary Club summer exchange student to Japan. The trip was an emersion in a culture vastly different than my own yet with people who had the core characteristics of kindness and generosity that were comfortingly familiar.
Soweto, South Africa 3) In my waitress garb, 4) At a picnic with South African friends.
Not all gap years are the same. While my gap year involved a lot of travel as well as working as a teacher and a waitress, my son took a break from school for two years to work at his full time career. After getting an A.A. in Business and an A.S. in Automotive Technology, he worked as an auto tech for two years, learning his craft and saving his money. He then went back to school and got his B.S. in Automotive Management and graduated debt free.
Gap years are growing in popularity in the U.S. and are already common in the UK where approximately 200,000 students delay going to college for a year. A number of American universities, including Harvard, are encouraging incoming freshman to take a gap
1. Take a Break and Get Healthy: A break from academics can help a student feel energized to start school again when he or she returns. Twelve years is a long time to keep the same school schedule, and a break can allow students to improve their health by getting more sleep, and taking time to exercise, and learning to eat well.
2. Become More Independent: Most high school seniors have spent the last four years with the same set of peers, dependent on detailed daily instruction from teachers with an ever present family safety net. Trying something new or going someplace you have never been before - all on your own - will teach you to trust yourself which builds self-confidence.