If you’re visiting this page, you are probably assisting a young person who is considering a gap year before or during their college career. The practice of taking a year off before college is commonplace in many parts of the world, most notably in Great Britain. In America, gap years are surging in popularity, in part due to the support from respected colleges and universities. In 2016, Malia Obama made headlines by choosing to take a gap year before starting at Harvard, further moving the option into the mainstream.
Every parent begins the gap year journey in a different place. Some parents know that a year out is the best choice for their child, while other parents find themselves wary of the concept. Take some time to get to know the options out there. Gap year itineraries can be tailored to just any budget and structure based on your child’s profile.
Where Do I Begin?
If your child expresses interest to you about taking a gap year, the best immediate course of action is to listen. Sit down with your child and ask them why they want to take a year out and what they hope to do with their year. You might be surprised by what they say. Parental support is key to a successful year, and being able to communicate effectively with your child will make the planning much easier for you both.
If you are the one with designs on a gap year for your child, then the challenge becomes getting them on board. As with many aspects of parenting a teenager, you will never get them to agree to a gap year by force. A successful gap year is student-driven, so getting them enthusiastic about the prospects is an important first step. Give them some inspiring articles to read, take them to a Gap Year Fair or arrange a conversation with us to have an introductory chat.
Q: What is the process for deciding to take a gap year?
If you are a college-bound senior in high school who wants to take a gap Year, we recommend applying to college with your classmates and then deferring your admission. Here is a regularly updated list of deferral policies from major institutions (or you can call the admissions office to ask). Most gappers begin planning their activities during their senior year and have their plans in place by graduation.
Q. I am worried my child will not return to school if they take a gap year. What can I do?
This by far the most common concern expressed by parents of prospective gappers. Parents worry that their child will become enthralled with the “real world” and refuse to begin or return to college. Data collected by the Gap Year Association tell us that 90% of students who take a gap year begin college within a year of starting their gap time.
EnRoute’s services are designed to integrate the gap year experience into the college experience through goal setting and mental preparation. By viewing the gap year as part of an overarching college experience, the transition becomes smoother.
Q. Is a gap year affordable?
The range of opportunities available to students is astounding. There are opportunities to suit every budget, and financial aid and scholarship resources are expanding every year. It is also possible to use 529 Savings Account money towards certain programs.
It’s true that some programs – especially ones that offer mentorship and support – cost money. But like so many financial decisions, it is important to examine the return on investment. If your child takes their gap year seriously, you can expect it to be one of the best financial decisions your family can make.
Positive Financial Implications of a Gap Year
- While the average college student takes 6 years or more to graduate, most gappers take 4 (or less).
- Gap year students have a better sense of what they want to study and therefore are focused learners once they get to college. This translates into your tuition dollars going further via quality of education.
- A gap year allows your college savings fund another year to mature.
- If your child did not receive the scholarship or the financial package he or she was hoping for, a gap year allows time to reapply or explore other options.
- Some gap year experiences can be paid for by the student themselves, through fundraising or working for a portion of their time off. This can ease the financial burden on a family while teaching personal responsibility.
Q. What are the benefits of hiring EnRoute?
EnRoute takes the time to focus on each client individually, thus being able to design a gap year plan that is completely customized to the student’s interests, budget and goals.
If you want your child to take ownership of their year, but also want to ensure that they make responsible choices, we are here to help!
If you or your child are overwhelmed by the options and don’t want to spend countless hours researching them yourself, we are here to help!
If you have found value in the guidance of other niche professionals like college counselors, attorneys or real estate agents, we are here to help!