Representatives from gap year programs will hold lunchtime meetings to inform students about gap year options this February in the College and Career Center.
“We want to provide students with information that allows them to have more options for their gap year,” College and Career Center Director Allison Bly said.
In addition to the five lunch presentations, the College and Career center staff updated the College and Career Center homepage to contain a gap year database. Students can use the site as a resource to accquire more information about varying gap year programs, Bly said.
All students are invited to the Jan. 24, Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 27 and Feb. 28 meetings. Representatives from Global Citizen Year, Where There Be Dragons, Rustic Pathways, National Outdoor Leadership School, and the Center for Interim Program will speak for 30 minutes and answer any student questions, Bly said.
“Interestingly, we originally planned to bring in only one program representative after a parent suggested it,” Bly said. “But we later decided to invite four more program representatives to talk, because gap years are becoming more and more popular.”
According to americangap.org, the percentage of high school students deferring their college acceptance rose from 2.7% in 2011 to 5.4% in 2015. Whether these students want to volunteer abroad, explore career options, gain work and life experience, or simply take a break from a rigorous academic track, between 200,000 and 250,000 teens take gap years each year.
“I think they are getting more popular because people see a lot of benefits from them,” said class of ‘16 Sarah Chin, who is taking a year to dance in New York presently. “You can focus on non-academic pursuits and personal growth. Through my journey, I have learned so much about myself.”
Chin also said that it is vital to prioritize mental health. She concluded that her mind would have burnt out had she gone immediately to college and chose to take a break from the strict academic path she was following.
Senior Yuka Matsuno said that she is considering taking a gap year.
“Many people are drilled into thinking college is the right place for them,” Matsuno said. “It is not always the right track.”
In an environment where most people attend college, many forget that college is not always the best path. It is important to have options, Matsuno said.
“Gap years are good because you might need a break and you can travel the world,” junior Sofia Barker said. “But I would feel like I am a year behind all my friends. I would just get bored.”
Senior Sophie Gandesbery said that she is no longer considering taking a gap year. It takes a very motivated person to successfully take a gap year, she said.
“I’m afraid I would be too unmotivated and not get much out of it. Maybe I’d be too lazy to go back to school,” Gandesbery said.
Freshman Pierce St. Claire said that by choosing to take a gap year, you are just pushing back your career. By pushing college off, you are only hindering your future.
“The College and Career Center this year is focused on providing students with every option available for after they graduate,” Bly said. “Even if you don’t think you’re interested in a gap year, you should come to the meetings, because you never know.”