Should Your Student Take a Gap Year?
- Friday, July 27, 2007
WHAT TO DO DURING A GAP YEAR
While colleges of all kinds think gap years are a great idea for most students, they do caution against them for certain young people. As one college admission official told me, "Some students would just waste such a year. They'd sleep in every day, go to the movies, hang out with their friends, and basically do nothing productive at all. That's not what we want to see."
Some people hear about gap years and confuse them with other post-high school options. For instance, going to a local junior college during the year after high school, whether for one class or many, is not a gap year. A student attending any classes at all during the year between high school and college is labeled a college student. He or she will not be considered on the same level as "regular" incoming freshmen by the four-year colleges when it comes to important things like scholarships.
A gap year signifies a gap in formal education, but informally, the learning can go on in a wonderful way. As homeschoolers, we are all familiar with informal learning, and a gap year is the perfect time for your young adult to adopt such an approach to education with a passion.
It doesn't really matter exactly what your student does during the gap year, as long as it is something which he or she wants to do--something which relates in some way to a bigger goal, a broader vision, a future dream. When it comes time, during the middle of the gap year, to fill out those college applications, students will need to write about what they are doing during the gap year and why it is meaningful to them and how they see the gap year as being helpful to them.
My son spent his gap year doing several things. He worked two part-time jobs to save money. He outlined a series of books he wants to write and wrote the majority of the first one. He continued to lead in his CAP squadron and to participate in his local drama group. He played games and had long discussions with his younger brothers and sisters. Most importantly, he spent a lot of time thinking and praying about what he wants to do with his future.
Often seniors feel that their last year before going to college is rushed, hectic, and jam-packed from one end to the other with pressures of all kinds. A gap year can give young adults the space and freedom to think through and solidify their life plans and goals, while at the same time allowing them time to enjoy one last year with their family.
Homeschool high schoolers have nothing to fear when it comes to college admissions. Most colleges are clear in their support of both homeschooled and gap-year students. So relax--and feel confident as you and your teens decide what is right for them.
Kim Lundberg is the busy mom of 9 great kids. She and her family have been homeschooling for 16 years, and they make their home in beautiful northern California. Kim enjoys teaching drama, writing, and world history classes, as well as reading mysteries, baking goodies, camping, and listening to her kids talk, sing, and make music.
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