In my travels around the country, I talk with a lot of families who are curious about the term “gap year.” It’s a term that originated in Britain and has made its way over the pond in the last 3 decades or so.
What exactly is a gap year?
It is a break in formal education, usually between high school and college where students continue learning through a cultural immersion, volunteer opportunity in the US or abroad, deeper skill development in their sport, arts, language, or academics. It’s a time of reflection and maturity. More importantly, it is a period of purpose and intention.
A gap year is not a vacation, nor a year of hanging out for the sake of hanging out. The purpose and intentional aspect of a gap year is important because it suggests that the gap year is most effective when it’s planned in advance.
For many incoming freshmen who decide to defer their matriculation to college, the colleges will grant deferred admission if you outline your plans for how your time will be spent during the gap year. For students who want to have a more competitive application for college, they may apply to college during the start of the gap year and the applicant must state how their gap year time is being spent. So having a plan for how the gap year will be structured is critical for college-bound students.
On our radio show today, we spoke with Andrew MacKenzie and Anna Walker of Africa and Asia Venture in Britain. Gap years have been popular in Britain for many years and their program has been around since 1993! Their program offers opportunities for cultural immersion and volunteer experiences in Africa, Asia, and The Americas.
Several of the topics covered in this discussion included:
- Benefits of participating in such a program
- Deferred admission vs. applying to college during their gap year
- Trends in students pursuing a gap year
- And of course . . . safety and security measures that families must consider prior to any cultural immersion or volunteer abroad opportunity
You can listen to this podcast on volunteer abroad gap year programs and learn Anna’s tips on travel insurance and resources that families must consult when vetting these programs!
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