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By John Raftrey And Lori McCormick

Are you taking a Gap Year?

Uploaded: Apr 20, 2015

(Written by Lori McCormick)

Have you considered taking a gap year? This isn't a question posed often to students but perhaps should be.

Often, students are burned out by the time they graduate from high school and the thought of starting another four rigorous years of study can be exhausting ? and stressful. Gap years are taken to spend time re-evaluating college and career paths. And, frequently, gap years are spent outside of the student's community; this way they really get to experience the world through a different lens.

Typically, there are three forms of gap years most recommended ? Study Abroad, Work Study or AmeriCorps (or similar Service/Work program). It is also recommended that a student who is planning on taking a gap year contact their college and let them know of their plans. Most colleges will allow a student to defer enrollment for one year (two years if in AmeriCorps).

How can you determine if taking a gap year is right for you?

First, let's explore the Pro's.

During students' gap years, they will discover not only new information about themselves, but new information about the world around them and the cultures within it. Some students will take a gap year to work or get hands-on experience in an intended field of study to prepare themselves for the classroom later on. Learning from an experiential perspective will enable a student to contribute valuable broad-range discussions in the classroom. Another pro to consider is joining a work-study program like AmeriCorps. Students can earn money for tuition while being a part of a larger experience ? one of community service, self-exploration and life skills. Many colleges even offer grants to students who have completed their AmeriCorps service hours. This could make college tuition more affordable in addition to an invaluable work experience.

Then there is the common story of the student who got a job in their gap year and because of it came to appreciate the virtues of continuing with their education. These are students who deceived themselves by thinking the grass might be greener in the work world. To their sorrow, they found it wasn't true.

And now the Con's.

When a student decides to take a gap year, they are postponing their college plans. For some students, that might become more of a challenge to get back on track when the gap year ends. It is my recommendation that if you decide to take a gap year, it is through a structured organization or program.

To learn more about what a gap year is and how it has evolved over the decades, review this link.

Traditional paths of attending college right after high school are also excellent choices. The thing to remember here is that there are CHOICES. And whatever path you choose, find value in it, learn from it, and take advantage of your opportunities.