Turning the Gap Year Into a Learning Tool

| April 9, 2012 | 39 Comments

For many high school seniors, the summer before college, is considered their last hurrah; their rite of passage before the hard work of college, career building, or their “real” job begins.

Many parents are behind their children taking a break from their hard work in high school or college because they know that in a few short months the hard work will begin again. But what used to be considered a last moment of freedom is often extended and turned into a valuable learning experience outside of the classroom. The term “Gap Year” has been coined to identify this time between high school and college; a time for growth, personal reflection, or both.

A Gap Year is a lot more than simply taking time off to enjoy a road trip with friends. And a Gap Year is certainly not only for those who haven’t a clear direction on what they want to do. It can be highly beneficial for even the most driven and focused students. Since a Gap Year includes everything from community service or an entry-level job in one’s backyard to volunteering or traveling overseas, these students learn first hand about the world around them and many different cultures. Some students help build homes in devastated areas of the United States, others help to build orphanages in Africa, or teach English as a second language. All of them learn valuable lifelong skills.

If you have a high school senior, a Gap Year could be a great opportunity for them to reflect on exactly what they want out of their life as they move ahead. It will give them a chance to grow and develop the self-confidence and life skills needed before committing to college or the workforce. Studies have shown that students who take a gap year are more likely to graduate from college in four years. With more and more programs facilitating life-changing gap year experiences, it’s the perfect time to explore this option with your high school senior. Most colleges are more than happy to defer your’s student’s admission and hold a place for him/her in following year’s class.

Have questions about gap years? Ask me! Know of any good programs? Tell me about them. Know any students who have taken a gap year? Tell them to post a comment on this blog and tell us about their experience.

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About the Author ()

Marie is the Founder & President of TeenLife Media, a company she started in 2007 when she and other parents she knew could not find useful resources for families with teens (not little kids). She is a HUGE believer in encouraging students to engage in the world around them.

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