What's Stopping You From Taking a Gap Year?
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.
First, winning the support of your Mom and Dad starts with showing them you are serious enough about taking a gap year to do the research and planning yourself! Take the bull by the horns! Research options on the internet, read books and talk to returned 'Gappers' about how they did it. Talk about your goals with parents, family and friends. Don't be deterred if your folks don't warm up to the idea immediately. Many students I have interviewed say it took time to get their parents on board, even with well conceived plans, but in the end M & D turn out to be your biggest supporters!
Second, your written plan should read like a proposal! You just have to sell yourself and your ideas. State your reasons for wanting to take a year out and your goals for that year. Demonstrate how your goals will help you succeed in college. For example, "Mom and Dad, I feel I am not ready for college next fall because I have never lived away from home, and really don't have a clue about what my major should be, or what interests me. Instead of wasting $20,000 on tuition and living expenses it would be better for me to delay college a year so I can pursue my desire to volunteer in an urban setting with kids, do some paid work to bank some savings, and follow my love for the outdoors by exploring the Grand Canyon with a group of experienced backpackers. It would also be a great way to develop my outdoor leadership skills further. During my year out I will gain maturity and confidence by working and living away from home, and learning to solve problems, ya know, learn those life skills that I may be a bit short on!. This will help prepare me for the challenges of independent living and managing my time and academics next year when I arrive on campus. My goal of volunteering with kids in the inner city may help me determine if I want to pursue a degree in elementary education."
Finally, how on earth do you pay for your gap year? You might want to begin by establishing a budget. Start with the idea that you and your parents are already committed to tuition and fees and living expenses at a four year college or university. Public institutions in state might cost $15,000 to $20,000. Out of state $25,000 or more, and private higher education $30,000 to $40,000. A budget gap year, on the other hand, where you do a combination of volunteering, paid work, and some independent travel, may only cost you $5,000 to $10,000 for a year. This is great news! A year out is easily within the reach of almost any student and family in the US today!
Of course, a gap year that includes overseas travel, participation in well organized adventure travel, outdoor wilderness experiences and wilderness skills development and certifications, volunteer projects with indigenous peoples in exotic locations like Africa and Asia will cost more. But don't let that stop you from dreaming! You can work before your gap year to save part of the required monies, get financial aid, scholarships and grants from many organizations to defer the costs, and you may even get your parents or others to ante up $$ towards your experience! The sky is the limit!