Hi. I am back after a short hiatus, ready to bring some clarification to the many parents out there who have some genuine concerns about their kid taking a year out before college. First, the most frequent concern I hear from parents is that their student may lose interest in going to college if they take a year out, and it may be to their disadvantage in terms of getting into college, or getting a job! Yikes! Mom and Dad need to start reading my Gap Year News feed, and the plethora of information there. The fact is that there is convincing evidence to the contrary!
I recently reviewed the College Confidential web site College Admissions Resources From CollegeConfidential.com and found a great article written by one of their admissions counselors called Pro's and Con's of Gap Year. By the way, College Confidential's site offers free college admissions based content in the form of articles, and a discussion forum to help students and parents navigate the complexities of the college admissions process. They also offer a host of fee based admissions counseling packages. As college planning and taking a gap year often go hand in hand, I recommend this site as a useful resource.
I discovered the The Year Out Group when I was living and working in the UK in 2006, and researching the origins and development of the gap year phenomenon in the UK. YOG is an authoritative voice which offers guidance and resources to students, parents and advisers who wish to plan productive gap year experiences, and identifying worthwhile organizations. It is an association of leading year out organizations in the UK, formed in 1998 to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs. The YOG's 35 members are made up of private companies and non-profits who provide a variety of educational year out programs. The members are required to meet a stringent set of criteria to get admitted to, and maintain membership in the group.
There are 3 obstacles that prevent students from taking a gap year. Number 1- Your parents. If they are not convinced about the benefits of you taking a gap year before college, you will have a hard time getting their financial or moral support.
Number 2- No plan. You really want to take a year out but aren't sure what you want to do or where you want to go, and don't know where to start. Number 3- No money. You don't have savings to pay for a year out, and don't have a clue about what it will cost.
The good news is you can overcome these obstacles with a bit of perseverance and guidance from me.
The following tips will help you develop a strategy for your gap year
- Talk about it, get others involved.
- Introduce your ideas and plans to your parents, or other family members involved in your decision to take time out.
- Listen to what they have to say.
- Keep an open mind, and keep your communication constructive.
Here are tips to consider as you plan your trip.
- Get Adequate Insurance- Ensure it also includes 24-hour emergency assistance.
- Have Local Knowledge- Check out the US State Department’s site and click on "Travel Warnings" to give you up-to-date info on specific countries and regions
- Research the specific cultures, customs and laws of the country you will be visiting. Read the State Department's country specific Background Notes.
- Check Visa and Passport Regulations.
US citizens can get tips on how to apply for a passport at www.travel.state.gov.
Here are some key questions to ask organizations that provide gap year experiences:
- What is the age range of participants?- Ideally it should be geared to 18-24 year olds.
- What will I gain from actually doing this placement?
- How has the program been chosen and checked out? Has a representative of the sending organization actually seen it firsthand?
- What exactly will I be doing?
- What is expected of me? What will be my responsibilities?
- What is the precise program cost and what does it cover? The actual cost and finances should be discussed openly.
Take the Following Steps to Get Support for Your Gap Year or Time Out From Parents and High School or College Advisers.
- Explain your goals for wanting to take time off before, during, or after college
- Explain your plan to defer admission
- Explain your plan to apply or reapply to college
- Explain your plan for paying for your gap or time out experience
- Ask for support researching and screening programs and handling logistics
Below are some examples of how to explain your time off goals in a clear and concise manner to your parents: