Types of options that a gap year can offer you

02 January 2018 - 07:30 By EvenMe
123RF/rawpixel.
123RF/rawpixel.
Image: 123RF

More and more students are opting for a "gap year" between high school and college. Taking a year off to work and save money, travel, intern, or complete community service, can be beneficial in helping a student mature, gain a better sense of career options and a more global perspective on life and work.

A year off is a great option for a student who is motivated and determined to go to college, but wants or needs more time before college starts. 

Explore your interests. Often, students spend high school juggling schedules packed with college preparatory courses, sports and other extracurricular activities, and work and volunteer commitments. This means you may not have had time to holistically explore your interests as well as potential careers that align with them.

A gap year that includes practical experience in a field that interests you can help you to focus on selecting a college major that fits your personality, interests, and strengths, saving you time and money once you get to campus.

Recharge your battery. After four years (or more!) of racing to complete homework, fitting in play practice, and balancing  family and work commitments, a gap year offers time to take a breath and refresh before again entering a challenging academic world.

This doesn’t mean you sleep in, play video games, or watch TV all day, but giving your brain a breather can help make the transition to college a fresh experience.

Refine your skills. Are you bringing a special talent with you to college? Many students take a year to hone their craft by attending academies, playing on specialized teams, or immersing themselves in workshops to be well prepared to exercise their talent on campus.

Whether it be an overseas soccer experience, a writing workshop, or a dance academy, plenty of opportunities exist to allow you to improve your skills or gain practical work experience over a semester or an entire year.

- Should parents be concerned if their child/ tells them they want a gap year?

Parents want their children to develop into rounded people who can deal with whatever life throws at them. A gap year offers them an opportunity to do this: it gives them the space to do their own thing, time to learn a new skill or gain work experience, to help others or the environment.

It is an opportunity for them to broaden their horizons, to learn to get on with people, develop resourcefulness and appreciate other cultures and attitudes. Universities value the maturity and focus of gappers; employers value the communication, decision-making and financial-planning skills as well as the initiative that gappers can show on their CVs.

Talking through your worries and resolving any differences in an amicable way will be one of the keys to a happy gap year for both of you. But remember one thing – your child is 18 now. They can vote, marry, drink, smoke without your permission. They can certainly, with a little practical help and guidance, choose their own gap year.

Some gap years cost nothing; others need a substantial amount of money, and on some you even earn money. Be quite clear with your child about what you are, and are not, prepared to pay for. It is important not to use money as bribery.  Remember, it is their year off and not yours. 

Attitudes 

Remember that your children are, in the main, unemployed school leavers. Encourage them to have realistic expectations about the sort of jobs they may be offered; and what kind of money they could earn. Above all, encourage them to be open-minded and tactful. 

X