An Effective Gap Year Might Be For You Other Cool & Meaningful Topics Personal Management Start With Why

A gap year between high school and college can provide a great opportunity for real life experiences and personal growth that can’t be learned in a classroom. I’d like to share some ideas for your consideration:

  • Why a gap year can be beneficial
  • The Discovery Year program and founder Jay Gosselin’s observations
  • The Gap Year Association is a great place to start the exploration

A Gap Year can be beneficial in many ways. Did you know Harvard University has encouraged newly accepted students to take a purposeful gap year of travel, work, and volunteer work before attending since 1973? They have recognized the benefit of experience outside a classroom before continuing further education. These beneficial experiences include:

  • Discover strengths, interests, and passions
  • Meet new people in different professions and walks of life
  • Push themselves outside their comfort zone and try new things
  • Experience problems they must “figure out” and learn resiliency
  • Experience more interaction with adults, resulting in learning from their experience
  • Travel

A beneficial gap year must be carefully planned to be transformational. Just working at a fast-food restaurant and playing video games at home or hanging out with friends will not be a wise use of your gap year, my friend. If you need guidance, read on for two sources.

The Discovery Year program is one great example of a structured gap year program. Based in Canada with a satellite program in Boston, MA and available remotely, The Discovery Year program is a great opportunity for students who want a guided program with mentors and international travel.

Founder Jay Gosselin taught at the University of Ottawa and couldn’t help but notice the emotional climate of incoming students was consistently one of anxiety and depression. This led him to dive into research studies which corresponded with what he was seeing in the classroom:

  • Most 18-year-olds today have the behaviors and responsibilities of 16-year-olds twenty years ago.
  • There is a trend of teenagers feeling anxiety rather than excitement about becoming an adult. They are reluctant to leave the nest and sometimes even to drive a car.
  • Yet states are pushing college level courses in high school, creating stress for some students
  • College students are often not in pursuit of knowledge, only interested in the degree and what status it will bring.
  • Many students lack purpose and meaning for their life, and so have no direction.

Jay was inspired to develop Discovery Year to help students build confidence, self-awareness, adaptability, independence, and sense of purpose.  This is done with providing high quality mentors for each student, weekly communication workshops, a one-month international trip in which the student is guided through making all the arrangements, and two community service projects designed and executed by students in teams. They have micro-coaching with mentors on subjects such as budgeting, investing, and entrepreneurship. Mentors are chosen for their strong character, purpose, and courage.

This is just one example of structured gap year experiences! To find others, use the next resource:

The Gap Year Association is the place to start exploring the idea of a gap year.  Their website will answer a lot of questions you may have. Topics they cover for parents and students include:

  • Planning Gap Year consultants and alumni have developed a planning guide you can download for free
  • Program searches
  • How to find a consultant A consultant can save you time, money, and stress
  • Financial aid and scholarship advice such as travel scholarships, and other grants that are available for programs tied to college credit

A gap year may not be for everyone, but is most beneficial when planned with intention and forethought.

-Jan Jones

Below are the resources that I’ve sited:

Gap Year Association – Gap Year Association

Discover Year | Spark your curiosity. Ignite your potential.