Sometimes I get the question whether a gap year before going to university is a good idea. The straightforward but ambiguous answer is sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. Some things to consider when discussing gap year options with your child:
- You need to know you child. Some students struggle through the IB and need a break from studying and feeling stressed all the time. They may feel unmotivated, like they have a burn out, and be undecided about what they want to study and where. Or they want to explore, develop new skills, and experience new things before embarking on a bachelor’s degree. In these cases, taking a gap year to do some self-exploration and soul-searching can be extremely valuable. Talk to your child about why they want to take a gap year, find out their motivation and decide whether you think their arguments are valid or whether they just want a really long holiday. Some arguments against a gap year are some of their friends will be a year ahead of them at college and it might be difficult for them to get back into an academic study once they are working. If you, together with your child, come to the conclusion that a gap year is a good idea, then the next step is to make a plan and set some goals.
- Make a plan and set some personal goals. Students with few or no plans may end up wasting their time. It’s not often that we get a year “off” life to explore and pursue interests. They should make good use of their time and resources to learn about themselves, the world and possible career interests. Setting some learning objectives and deadlines can be extremely useful to stay on track.
- Do collect the materials needed for university applications or if possible, apply during Grade 12 and defer. Some universities in Canada and the USA will allow students to defer their entrance for a year, but it is important to check whether this is possible. Deferring admission may have financial implications. Your child might have to reapply to certain scholarships or financial aid, and there is no guarantee that they will get the aid the second time around. It’s highly recommended to research, plan, and organize the college application process beforehand (making a list of colleges they want to go to, research entry requirements, take tests [SAT, ACT, TOEFL] get letters of recommendation and transcripts). Students don’t want to have to worry about these things during the gap year itself.
What are some things they could do during a gap year?
- voluntary work either organized by an agency such as Rustic Pathways or individually
- study a (new)language to perfect fluency
- work as an au pair in another country
- find employment (waiting tables, picking kiwi fruit in New Zealand or grapes in France, as a surf instructor) to earn some money to supplement their college education, their travels or just for the experience
- teach English – think of getting a TEFL certificate
- work on a kibbutz
- take a 1 year course in some area of interest
- join a school that specializes in gap years and helps students do some self exploration and growth, such as United Mint Campus in Spain (brochure).
- travel, see the culture and lifestyles of other countries
- explore careers
Rustic Pathways, offering gap semesters and summer programs, will be visiting BIS on March 2nd from 12:30-1:30 – during lunch time in Room 9 and the Grade 11 students during DP Hour.
Explore the world with Rustic Pathways this summer! Stop by Room 9 on Thursday, March 2nd from 12:30-1:10 to learn more about Rustic’s 100+ immersive service and adventure programs in 20 countries around the world. Help build a school in rural Fiji, advocate for women’s rights in Peru, backpack through Mongolia, or learn Spanish in Costa Rica. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, environmentalist, photographer, future educator, or just want to see the world, there’s a transformative experience for you. Rustic offers one- to three-week summer programs and gap year semesters that allow high school students to immerse themselves in other cultures, see the world’s most beautiful places, discover their passions, and develop lifelong friendships with other students from all corners of the globe. Come meet Evan today to learn more and enter your name into the spring raffle for a free program.