How should students spend their time during a gap year?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

Here are a few suggestions: DON'T WORK! Sign up for community service or do disaster relief They can write a book or pursue a course of study such as, "Who Killed Kennedy", Causes of the Disappearance of the Dinosaurs, or some other academic pursuit Be a volunteer in your own community or elsewhere If you're bi-lingual, assist those who have trouble w/English If you're politically motivated, become a campaign volunteer If you're talented in the arts or music, put on free concerts or art shows for the less fortunate, not just the well to do If your family has the dough, go on a worldwide trip and see as many cultures as possible - by ship, or preferably by land or rail travel

Lin Johnson III

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

A 'gap year' between high school and college is a wonderful opportunity to learn and contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Typically, students take this opportunity to perform community services in an underserved community or volunteer in a developing country. This experience will lend a new viewpoint to the classroom, enriching your education. Also, you can take the chance to travel and explore different cultures, languages, and traditions. Yet, here are some untraditional options: starting a business, leading a community initiative, or exploring a potential career path as an intern. Students are beginning to choose these paths. Several high school students are starting their own business immediately and a gap year is a great time to do so. Overall, you should not nothing during a gap year.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

A gap year can be a valuable interlude between high school and college. This time often enables a student to discover more about him/herself, so that more informed choices may be made with regard to college and major options. The gap year time can be spent in many different ways, depending on the interests and resources (or lack of them) of the student. Possibilities: - Work to earn money for college - Do volunteer work, either locally, somewhere else in the student's own country, or internationally - Study a foreign language, either locally or in conjunction with a program in another country - Serve an internship in a field of interest - Take various courses of interest at a local community college - Travel abroad - Some countries, like Australia, offer work/travel visas - You can probably think of other worthwhile activities to plug into a gap year. What not to do: - Hang around the house watching TV

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

A gap year is a golden opportunity to explore one's interests, grow up and learn to manage on one's own. There is no one right way to spend a gap year. As I noted in another posting, for kids from countries that still require military service, this is a good time to meet this obligation. Travel or work are other good options. If a student has a particular non-academic interest this is a good time to explore it.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

The possibilities are virtually unlimited. Many of the most valuable experiences combine independent study with actually doing work in the world that benefits others.

Allen Regar

How should students spend their time during a gap year?

The answer to this question depends on whether you have a goal in mind for after you complete gap year. If your goal is to go to college, do you know what college you would like to attend? Do you know what major course of study you would like to pursue? If so, it would be beneficial for you to structure your gap year experience around what you are interested in pursuing during college or possibly after. If you have an interest in medicine or international relations, could you possibly arrange to work at a medical clinic in another country? Or, if your interest is in the arts, could you pursue an internship or other work/learning experience at a local arts organization? Through "connecting the dots" between high school, gap year, college, and beyond, you not only are keeping your sights on your future goals, but gaining valuable personal experiences that will ultimately be of great benefit along the way. Many gap year students, also interested in college, are nonetheless undecided regarding what they would like to pursue as a major or a career. Students in this camp (and there are many just like you!) will still have a meaningful experience during gap year, and may even learn more about themselves than they ever could have imagined learning in high school. Gap year can in effect become a pivotal time in one's life, where horizons expand, boundaries are crossed, and your inner self, which may have felt clouded in high school, begins to emerge. If you are uncertain about what you want to do in college other than being sure that you want to go, then go with your heart for gap year--but regardless of what you do, be sure to make it *meaningful.* Do not volunteer if you do not want to volunteer; do not travel to a foreign country because you think it will look good on your college application. Go with your heart (but be mindful of you and your parents' wallet!) for gap year, but be certain that it will be meaningful to you, and that you will be able to speak knowledgeably and convincingly about your experiences.