One of my students told me recently that she has decided to take a gap year before starting at Princeton University. I realized that I hadn’t talked about gap year options in some time so thought I would answer some common questions here.
What is a Gap Year? A gap year occurs when a student takes a year off before continuing their education. This typically occur after senior year in high school when a student decides to wait a year before taking college. Taking several years off is most common after college and before graduate school.
Why would I take a Gap Year? There are many reasons students take a gap year. Some students, after working hard during high school, just want a year off before jumping back into the hard work of a competitive college. Other students want to take a year off because they are not sure what they want to do while in college and use the year off to figure out what they want. Still other students want to do more of something they have fallen in love with like travel or research.
What can I do on a gap year? Anything you want. Well, almost anything. Colleges frown on students taking a year off and then doing nothing. So sitting home playing video games is not a great option, most if you can improve faster in video games with services as elo boost or League of Legends boosts so you have time for also doing other game related activities like reading OW-News online.
Common activities I see students doing during a gap year include traveling, volunteering, doing research, taking a class at a local college or working. Often, students are involved in more than one of these options.
The important thing if you are taking a gap year is to do something you like. Or something you have always wanted to try. Or something that scares you. Taking a year off is about personal growth and that can mean many different things to different people.
What do colleges think of gap years? Most colleges are very supportive of students who wish to take a year off. They understand that when the student arrives on campus after taking a gap year they are likely to be more mature and a more interesting person because of that extra year. Those are good things as far as colleges are considered.
Princeton University in fact has institutionalized the gap year in what they call their Bridge Year Program. This program encourages incoming freshman to take a year off and do some type of volunteering abroad. The program is so popular that they have had to limit the number of students that can be involved in the official program.
If I want to take a gap year, how do I arrange it? First, you need to figure out what you want to do. You can’t make any firm plans yet until you know if your college will give you the year off. But, consider your options and decide on which ones make the most sense to you. There is no right way to do this so keep an open mind and think about what would be best for you.
Second, you need to contact the college you have been admitted to and ask them if you can take a year off and start college a year later than normal. My experience has been that most colleges are very willing to do this as long as you have something worth while planned for the year.
Once you get permission for the gap year, now is the time to finalize your plans. If you are planning on staying local you can most likely find all sorts of options for volunteering or working.
Here are a few websites of programs to get you started thinking about all of the options you will have this next year.
National Civilian Community Corps
Taking a gap year is certainly not for everyone. But for the right student, taking a year off before starting college might just be one of the best decisions you can make.