Experiencing a Gap Year Before College

Today I’ve invited Kristin White, an author and independent college counselor, to share with us some surprising facts about a growing phenomenon: the gap year.  Kristin wrote a new book on the subject that’s entitled, The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things To Do Between High School and College.

The gap year is a hot topic right now, and one that always brings a lot of questions from teens and their parents.  After immersing myself in gap year research for a year, I want to share some fascinating facts with you about the gap year:

1. A gap year does not have to be expensive. For thousands of students, it is entirely free.  Students who spend their gap year with AmeriCorps or other select government agencies receive not only a free program, but also a college tuition bonus of $4750, which many universities double.

Students are able to use their federal financial aid to cover costs for certain overseas gap year programs.  Some new innovative programs also offer full scholarships to select low-income students.  Many hard-working students have funded their own travels and program fees by working for the first part of the year to fund their travels.

2.  Students can apply to college from their gap year. Of course the safest route is to get accepted at your college of choice and then defer your admission to embark on a gap year.  But students who are not happy with their college acceptances, for whatever reason, can start the process again.  Those attending “post graduate year” programs will get the added opportunity to improve their grades and test scores.

3.   A gap year does not have to involve travel or volunteering.    There is a gap year program for just about any student’s interest.  Some students forgo structured programs and use the time to work on an invention, join a political campaign, write a novel, or study music.  There are gap year programs which focus on such varied subjects as oceanography, sailing, sports, art, or archeology; and there is even a program on the art of being a DJ.

4.     All sorts of students can benefit from a gap year. The gap year is truly for all types of learners.  Students often find their passion on a gap year or they remember how to love learning again– new ideas which will help them make a great transition to college life.

Kristin White is the author of The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things To Do Between High School and College (Sept. 2009, Wiley), CompleteGapYearGuide.com.

Further Reading:

Exploring a College Gap Year

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