Thinking of Taking a Gap Year?
High school seniors have been very busy preparing their college applications and waiting to hear positively or negatively from those colleges. But a growing number of these students are not going to step foot on campus in the fall, electing instead to take a gap year. What is a gap year? It is a year between high school and college where students explore their interests outside of a school setting.
A handful of colleges offer scholarships and fellowships to incoming freshmen who take a gap year. Check with the colleges to which your teen applied to find out what is offered.
Many parents are wary of the idea, and for good reason. The biggest fear is once their son or daughter stops attending school, he or she won’t go back. The best way to protect against this is to have a plan and stick to it.
The plan is three fold. First, once your child commits to a college – defer enrollment. He or she will know there is a solid commitment waiting at the end of the gap year. Second, make sure there is a structured plan in place. It is important to make certain your teen will not be sitting on the couch watching reruns all day or playing video games. And third, make sure your teen is partially responsible for funding the gap year. Many students work for six months to help fund a six-month gap year program or travel abroad.
There are many organizations available to help plan the gap year. Some can be very expensive, charging a fee for their advice. But there are many low-cost options, including volunteering for a program such as AmeriCorps, City Year or WWOOF-USA.
When planning time off consider these questions:
- What does your teen want to learn?
- How much structure is needed?
- Where in the world does your teen want to be?
- What does your teen want to do?
- If things get difficult, what is the emergency plan?
This is a great time for your teen to take a risk and branch out of his or her comfort zone. Taking the time to help your teen plan a great gap year will benefit you both!
Websites and Resources:
City Year: www.cityyear.org
The American Gap Association
If you have any other questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at www.Prep4CollegeNow.com or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!
Andrea (Andi) K. Frimmer, M. Ed.
Prep 4 College Now, Inc.
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