Gap Year

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After high school, taking a gap year is a choice that graduates make more frequently, and more universities are helping those students who take that option. According to some supporters, a year of national service or gap years should be required. More students are now considering taking time off from school because of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing universities nationwide to temporarily close and switch to online sessions, possibly stretching into the fall term. Despite the potential benefits of taking a gap year, many people are still unfamiliar with the idea and may think it entails aimless travel or wasting time. In this student guide, you will know about what exactly is a gap year, why you should consider it, what are the consequences and what might it entail in the event of a global pandemic?

What is a
Gap Year?

For many, taking a year off could be intriguing. However, what exactly is it, how do you do it, and what occurs next?

Each person’s gap year is unique. It is a whole year or semester of educational opportunities, which may include travel, volunteer work, paid jobs, an internship, or a combination of these. Before beginning college, it is often taken following high school graduation.

Whatever route students take, they will see that a successful gap year may make a big difference. Many students feel they have a better understanding of who they are. This is primarily because they could broaden their horizons and push themselves.

History of
Gap Year

Many experts and enthusiasts have written articles about gap years since the 1980s, when they became popular in the United States. However, the article titled “Time Out or Burn Out for The Next Generation,” primarily attributed to William Fitzsimmons, a former dean of admissions at Harvard, stands out. Since then, numerous books and articles have been written, most notably “The Gap Year Advantage” by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson.

Why Should You Take
a Gap Year?

By taking a gap year, one can revitalize and reboot. The final year of high school is stressful academically. Many students discover that taking an extended break before college is an excellent way to recuperate from burnout after completing projects, taking tests, and completing college applications.

A process of discovery can lead to that kind of healing. You can learn about people or cultures different from your own by taking a gap year. It can educate you on how to interact with personalities that are different from yours. The best part is that it can help you learn more about who you are. One can discover one’s capabilities and priorities. Taking a year off could allow you to pursue your passions and determine what you want to study in college.

Remember that a gap year is not the same as taking a year off. It is about acting, moving, thinking, planning, and seizing the opportunity. Do not consider using a gap year as a substitute for beginning college. You may be able to become ready for college with this experience – you gain independence and self-awareness, two crucial traits for succeeding in any major. A gap year can make you stand out on your resume after graduation.

How to Plan a
Gap Year?

It is a good idea to consider what you want to learn when organizing your gap year. This will significantly affect how your experience is shaped. If learning about new cultures is your goal, visit a different nation or city. Find an internship if you want professional expertise. Want to combine the two? Start with a supervised employment opportunity, then go on to travel.

The secret to a successful gap year is careful planning. Everybody will have a different strategy. Speaking with your high school counselor is a great place to start because they may know of services that can assist you.

Cost of a
Gap Year

The sticker price for gap year programs can vary greatly and be ambiguous when it comes to expenditures, much like college tuition. While high-end programs may cost more than $50,000, students may pay less, thanks to scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Additionally, some programs might be funded for low-income students to make them more accessible.

The Pandemic & Gap
Year Considerations

Though the gap years should be seen as a valuable learning experience, delaying enrollment due to the uncertainty prompted by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is not ideal. Admissions officers caution against taking a gap year to avoid unfamiliar academic settings.

Fundamentally, it is not correct to think of a gap experience as an alternative to college but one that better prepares (certain) students for the university experience. The reason for a gap year shouldn’t be to hold out until normal college life resumes to what it was before the pandemic hit. This has now become the new normal.

Varied Gap
Year Experiences

Many options are available for high school students or recent graduates who are considering taking a gap year, including self-guided and structured programs. On its website, the Gap Year Association, which accredits several programs, provides a comprehensive list of possibilities, including those that concentrate on ecology, animal care & conservation, language learning, coding, cultural immersion, and several other subjects.

The best gap years tend to be the ones that push students to think about who they are and what their role is in the world. A gap year can aid a student’s inspiration and motivation while better preparing them for college. It is also important to note that the “natural break” between high school and college is an ideal time for students to “pause and reflect” and explore options before the rigors of studies begin.

Gap Year & College
Admission

High school students considering taking a gap year often wonder about the support universities might provide. Prospective students must be aware of a school’s policy on gap years in the highly competitive world of college admissions. Reaching out to each college that a student is considering applying to or has already been accepted to is a good idea to inquire about the policies that would apply should they decide to take a gap year. They should also consider the benefits and drawbacks of doing so before deciding whether to take the year off or not.

Challenges of a
Gap Year

The inherent difficulties and advantages of a successful gap year should be understood by prospective gap year students, who will benefit not only themselves but also their communities and families. Taking a gap year provides the ability to take more control of one’s life rather than simply following the routine. Anecdotally, taking a gap year has proven to be beneficial for both the student and their community by putting them in situations where their parents cannot help them and where they are better prepared to handle some of their issues by themselves.

Pros and Cons of
a Gap Year

Pros:

Your life experience may help you become more prepared in general and for university in particular:

A gap year can impart much more invaluable life skills than simply sitting in a classroom ever could. This is particularly true if you want to spend your year traveling since doing so will surely help you develop the independence and self-reliance necessary for university-level independent study and living.

You can improve your academic performance:

Future academic success for students who take a gap year might also be enhanced. According to GPA research conducted by Robert Clagett, a former dean of admissions at Middlebury College, students who take a gap year tend to do better in college, outperforming peers by 0.1 to 0.4 on a scale of 4.0, with the benefits lasting for the full four years. And as for the concern that a brief break from formal education may lead students to completely give up on their academic path, around 90% of people who take a gap year return to college within a year.

It is an experience you will never forget:

Unfortunately, holidays become considerably more challenging to come by once one starts working as a full-fledged adult. Making the most of one’s time away from the responsibilities of everyday life is possible only when one takes a gap year. It will be much more difficult for individuals to get the opportunity to travel so widely for so long in the future, especially when they start studying or working full time.

You can gain work experience:

Likely, you did not have much time to work while you were a high school student, at least not in a position that resembled a profession. You can acquire some job experience by taking a gap year. You may use that job experience to assess if the career route you are thinking about would be a suitable fit for your own life experiences, objectives, and talents.

You can recharge before you burn out:

You have just completed at least 12 years of education. Maybe you should take a break before getting into another four (or more)? This may be rather reviving as you replenish your intellectual energy. After the difficulties of high school, taking a year off before college allows you to rejuvenate.

You can earn some money:

You can work full-time hours if you take that extra year off before college. You may use the additional income you generate to pay for your college tuition and other costs. You can accept any hours that come your way since the requirements of a school timetable do not constrain you.

Cons:

A gap year could become expensive:

Depending on your intended location and the length of your journey, expenditures are likely to rapidly add up if you want to travel during your gap year. Without careful preparation and organization, taking a gap year abroad might have a significant financial impact on you. If money is a problem for you, consider if this will be a sensible investment for you.

A gap year requires substantial planning:

The secret to a successful gap year is careful planning. Everybody will have a different strategy for going about it and what will happen after a gap year. If you want to learn something in your gap year, how well you plan it will significantly affect how your experience is shaped. But planning is not always an easy task. One must factor in goals, interests, expenses, location, getting back to college, and more.

Students might lose momentum and focus on college:

You are moving forward after high school. The educational opportunities that await you in college have you thrilled. You may lose that momentum if you take a year off to work. The good news is that 90% of kids who take a gap year enroll in college, so losing momentum is not usually a significant issue.

You will be a year behind:

This may prove to be a very challenging drawback for many. You will need to consider that by the time you arrive at university, many of your close friends will already have adjusted well to college. Additionally, taking a year off might add extra time to a potentially drawn-out educational process, preventing you from getting a head start in your profession.

It could be risky:

Taking a gap year is risky for several reasons, just like most things in life. It is ultimately up to you, but you might run the danger of all the negative aspects listed above and much more. Whatever you decide, remember that taking a gap year, especially if you spend some time traveling overseas, will change your life.

Wrap up about
Gap Year

Contrary to what some believe, students can gain a lot by taking a gap year before college. They can benefit from opportunities to build new life skills, such as enhancing soft skills, discovering a secret passion, and learning a new language and culture. Additionally, experience and exposure may help students prepare for college by increasing their financial literacy and helping them avoid academic fatigue so that when they return to school, they are better than ever, ready to study and handle obligations. Finally, by pursuing their hobbies and improving job happiness, students can benefit from personal growth. Conclusively, kids may gain a lot from a gap year before college since they gain new life skills, get ready for college, and go through personal development.