By Everything Summer Gap Expert Deborah Friedman Lesser
Admissions Decisions: They are in!
By now, college-bound students will know to what schools they were accepted, rejected, deferred or waitlisted. This is a time of great emotions - some students are excited, others are disappointed, and many are just confused and overwhelmed! On top of this, most students feel burned out from formal education and many parents are thinking their teen might actually not be ready for college! Well, there is an alternative path forward. What about a Gap Year?
Gap Year: Alternative path to college and beyond
The Gap Year is a unique opportunity for students to explore, discover more about themselves, and deepen their interests and strengths while developing life-skills in a way that they simply cannot in formal education. They are then able to apply these new-found skills and confidence to their next stage of life. Research indicates that students who choose to take a gap year before college have greater direction and clarity in their course of study and career, and are effective collaborators, among other benefits. The bottom line is that students go off to college (or return to school) refreshed, focused, more mature and ready to take advantage of new opportunities!
Defer Admissions: To save your spot!
You can create a new path to college by deferring a year, which means you are postponing your acceptance until the following year. While schools will have their own deferral policies and deadlines, they will most likely ask you to write a deferral letter describing your intended Gap Year plans. If you have applied for financial aid or scholarships, inquire about the policy on securing your funding for the following year. By building a gap year into your college plans, you are giving yourself time to develop skills that will be the foundation for being successful in college and beyond.
Types of Experiences: The possibilities are endless
The most important part of planning a Gap Year is identifying your goals, strengths, and interests as they will guide you in exploring the options and creating a meaningful experience. To give you a sense of what’s possible, here are some examples:
Scenario 1: Exploring Interests
Adam went to an academically rigorous high school and was accepted to an Ivy League college. By the end of his senior year, he was burned out and craving some “real world” experience before starting college. He wanted to explore his two main interests: environmental studies and mindfulness. As an only child, his parents wanted him to gain some maturity, independence and self-confidence.
Adam’s Gap Year:
Fall: Meditation retreat and trekking in Nepal on group program
Winter: Turtle conservation project in Costa Rica
Spring: Organic farm volunteering in Hawaii
Scenario 2: Needs a “refresh”
Melissa was accepted to her top choice of college but was not excited to go. While she was interested in art, education and health-wellness, she had “no clue” what she wanted to major in and she was nervous about living independently and fitting in socially. High school was stressful for Melissa so her mother wanted her to have “some fun” and learn without all of the social and academic pressures.
Melissa’s Gap Year:
Fall: Study art history in Europe on group program
Winter: Internship working with low-income NYC students
Spring: Yoga apprenticeship near Portland, OR
Scenario 3: Wants practical experience
Ryan knew he was not prepared for college. Because of his learning differences, high school was a challenge and he was unsure if and how he would function in a workplace environment after college. Music was his only passion and he was eager to discover more about it. His mother wanted a program that would help develop independent “life skills” and have structure and support, to best help Ryan succeed.
Ryan Gap Year: 9-month internship program consisting of 3 internships (music, baking, and business), group activities and life-skills classes.
Not A Senior?
That’s okay. The earlier you start thinking about a Gap Year, the more time you have to build it into college plans. To learn more, check out Gap Year 101.
If you need help planning your gap year or semester, reach out to Everything Summer and work with our gap expert Deborah Friedman Lesser to identify the experience or experiences that will help you make the most of your time away from school.