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What is a Gap Year and Why Should I Consider Taking One?


Gap yeaer fair logoA Gap Year is a 9-12 month period between two major life periods:  high school and college. Students in Britain and Australia have been taking Gap Years for, well, years.  They see the value in tackling some life experiences in between heavy doses of academic inquiry. These experiences can include work, internships, travel, community service, language learning, or a whole host of other activities limited only by the imagination of each individual.  The goal is to give yourself some time for personal growth, exploration, and discovery outside of the academic realm.  Colleges will happily allow you to defer matriculation for a year if you have a good plan for your Gap Year, and many colleges actively encourage students to take a year off before starting up a freshman.
A Gap Year doesn’t have to be expensive (though it sometimes is). Many students find jobs or internships.  Organizations like City Year may actually pay you a small stipend for your dedication to community service.
To help you structure your time out between schools, a whole industry of Gap Year organizations has sprouted.  These organizations in the US come together every year to present a traveling road show called the Gap Year Fairs.  Their west coast tour (including Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington) is coming up in early February.  You can see the schedule on the website here.  The fairs are sponsored by two of my favorite Gap Year organizations, Dynamy and Thinking Beyond Borders (see a short interview with Thinking Beyond Borders founder Chris Stakich here).
For  more information on a Gap Year, you can listen to this piece from NPR explaining the Gap Year concept.
We work with many students who decide to take a Gap Year as part of their educational plan.  Perhaps 10% of my clients this year will take a year off next year before matriculating.
Are you interested in taking a gap year?  Where would you go?  What would you do?  Leave a comment and let us know!
Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant


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