I recently organized a gap year panel featuring Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising and Richard Shaw the current Head of Admissions at Stanford University, Abby Falik the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, and two college students. Increasingly, colleges are encouraging students to embark upon a gap year experience before entering college, which is accelerating the trend and desire amongst students to do exactly that!
The panel discussed the myths associated with taking a Gap Year:
Myth #1: You will fall behind or get off track.
Reality: Students who take a gap year enter college more mature and better prepared to learn, and they have added significantly to their resumes for future internships and jobs.
Myth #2: The only students who make a gap year decision have something “wrong” with them.
Reality: Students who take gap years are eager to explore a new interest or passion and are willing to take an academic break before embarking on the next phase of their educational journey.
Myth #3: Gap years are only for high school graduates.
Reality: Students are embarking upon gap year experiences in between college years and also post-graduation. Most colleges are supportive and encouraging at any point of the students’ academic journeys.
Myth #4: Gap years are expensive.
Reality: Students can actually earn money during their gap year! Sure, there are expensive programs out there but some of the most memorable years are those where students are forced to get creative and find opportunities that don’t break the bank.
Parents, here is how you can help!
1. Challenge your teen to think about deliverables. What does he or she hope to accomplish and how does this year fit into their long-term goals?
2. Encourage your teen to use this time to explore their stated major or try something new.
3. Let your teen be in the driver’s seat. Sit back and become an advisor and partner in the process.
4. Insist that your teen bear some, if not all, of the expenses and take this opportunity to teach them invaluable money management skills.
How to find fantastic Gap Year programs or ideas?
1. Google search is a great start! Type in what you’d like to do and see where it takes you.
2. Visit college sites. More and more universities and colleges feature gap year information, along with student testimonials.
3. Email your college dean.