Original post by Corey Orndorff
With a plethora of options available for gap years like volunteering, traveling, cultural immersion, service projects, cultivating skills, language learning, to career experience, the question concerning your time before college transforms from “Is a gap year right for you?” to “Which gap year is right for you, and how do you know?” Last month, two gap year experts shared experiences, offered insight into the valuable college supplement a gap year provides and helped answer these questions, but if you missed the event, we’ve got you covered with this article.
Chris, the marketing director at Year On (formerly UnCollege), and Mandy, the former head of Gap Year Travel at Go Overseas, brought their expertise and laid it out in a short video that is broken down into three parts: Chris’s favorite gap year facts from the new American Gap Association report, Mandy’s overview of available gap year options and their discussion on how to choose, and a brief live Q and A at the end.
Some highlights from Chris’s fun facts he brought to the event:
- Over 50% of people that take a gap year between high school and college have above a 3.0 GPA in high school. This is fascinating because it dispels the idea that you take a gap year when you are not qualified for college, and that a gap year is a supplement appropriate for even those who seem to be ripe for university.
- The average amount of years to graduate for gap year students is 4, contrasted with the fact that only 40% of students graduating college do so in 4 years. After a gap year, students return to school more intentional, focused, and driven about their education, which results in a quicker route to a degree.
- The vast majority of people polled in the AGA report had immense satisfaction with their various gap year experiences. Growth as a person, self-confidence, communication skills, and career preparedness were all lauded as greatly improved.
- People participating in a gap year doubled since 2011. The gap year is being recognized as a valuable period for growth, as also evidenced by Malia Obama’s recent decision to defer Harvard enrollment for a year.
These stats have deep meaning: satisfaction with gap years is high and their beneficial results are concrete. Scholarships are available, forums are open, and as Mandy iterated a few times in the video, to pick the right gap year, there is no Buzzfeed quiz or tea leaves to read; it will take self-reflection to determine not only what you want out of the next twelve months, but also which route is the best way to get there.
Important questions to ask yourself:
- What do I want out of the next year?
- What can I do to be more ready for college?
- Am I a self-directed learner or do I need more support?
- Do I want a lot of structure or to be more independent?
- How can I talk to my parents about a gap year?
- How can I find more information?
- How can I pay for a gap year?
Be explorative but intentional with your pre-college options, and take advantage of the opportunities you have while you are young.
To view a video of the event, click here.