Recently, USA Gap Years sponsored Gap Year fairs in Boulder and Denver, Colorado. I had the chance to attend a special counselor day in Denver with all of the Gap Year program representatives. I came away feeling inspired by the variety of programs that today’s students have the opportunity to take advantage of. It made me ready to go out on an adventure!
However, with so many choices for programs to attend, the question naturally arose: How can you know when you are choosing a good gap year program? How can you distinguish the solid ones from the not so great ones?
The Denver Counselor Gap Year fair offered a panel session that spoke directly to this point. Here were some of their tips:
1) Look for well-established programs. Ask the company how long they have been running these programs for students.
2) Check LOTS of references. As you are scoping out the programs make sure to ask for parent and student references so you can get all of your questions answered.
3) Make sure that the company can answer your questions. Everyone who works for the company should be able to address large concerns for families such as- what happens in a medical emergency?- not just one of the guides.
4) Ask how thorough the program’s application process is. Do they take the time to have students fill out an application? Interview? How extensive are the questions they ask?
5) Does the program meet your, or your student’s, needs? Some programs are service based, some have language immersion, some are adventurous and rugged, some require lots of travel. What are you looking for?
6) Disclose all information to the gap year program regarding health and personal issues. The more the program knows about you the better they will be able to know if they will fit and meet your needs.
Perhaps the most important conversation when you are deciding which program to attend should be to ask yourself: Who do you want to be at the end of the gap year experience? Work backward from there to find a program that will fit those goals.
Image credit: http://www.endemol.com/programme/the-gap-year