Tagged: gap year

Teenage Years Are Like Dog Years

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Hello, Readers!  For today’s post I have a revelation to make, one that some of you may already be familiar with but that others of you have likely never given much thought to before.  Here they are, the words of wisdom:

College Admission ≠ College Readiness

In other words, being admitted to a college does not necessarily mean that you are ready to go to college.  To some extent, college admissions officials themselves acknowledge this fact, as offers of acceptance are contingent on completion of your high school degree.  In some instances, you may also need to show that you meet the college’s minimum math requirements or, if you hail from a non-English-speaking country, you may be asked to prove that you have achieved a certain level of fluency in the English language (for example, by submitting your TOEFL results).  Being prepared for the academic rigors of college is certainly important.  However, today I want to approach the phenomenon of college readiness from a non-academic angle.  For various reasons, not everyone is ready to take their place at the college starting block at the same time – and that’s OK.

AugustSix

 

Now, some college students may struggle to do their own laundry, to maintain a certain level of personal hygiene, or to show up for meals at times when the dining hall is actually open.  However, these traits do not necessarily spell doom for a college student – if he/she is making it to class, getting the work done, and being involved in college life, that individual will be OK!  No, what I’m talking about are deeper issues, those pertaining to maturity and psychological well-being.

In terms of maturity, a teenager shouldn’t simply be jumping on the college bandwagon because “that’s what you do” after high school – the student should want to go to college, be excited about studying, be ready to leave his/her high school comfort zone, and be willing to get out there, meet new people, and try new things.  Being nervous about starting college is completely normal, but absolutely dreading it should set lights flashing and sirens blaring – the time is not yet ripe for a college education!  In terms of mental health, a student experiencing severe psychological issues (i.e. those that impact their daily lives and their interactions with others) should also seriously consider temporarily holding off on jumping into the fray of college life.

I love this quote from a recent New York Times article: “To me, teenage years are like dog years: a year of maturation at age 18 is worth at least seven in later life.”  If the situation calls for it, and you’re not yet prepared to take the college plunge, take a year to boost your college readiness.  It’s an opportunity, not a set back – and so much good can come from such a relatively short period of time (assuming that time is used wisely).  If you think that it would benefit you, take a gap year!  Find a job or internship!  Enroll in some classes!  Volunteer!  Travel!  The possibilities are endless and, when the day does come to start college, you’ll be glad that you devoted the extra time to preparing yourself for the undergraduate adventures that lie ahead.  I know I’ve said it often, but that’s because I can’t emphasize this enough: Going to college is not what really counts – graduating from college is what’s important!  Prepare yourself well and you’ll make it happen!

 

Mind the Gap

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Gap.  GAP.  gap: A three letter word with a myriad of meanings and connotations!

Perhaps what comes to mind is this:

Mind the Gap

Or this:

Gap

 

However, the focus of today’s blog post is on the increasingly popular gap year!  Did you know that the term “gap year” even features in the Oxford English Dictionary?  It is defined as “a period of time taken by a student between leaving school and starting at university, which is typically spent working or travelling.”  However, it isn’t really surprising to find the definition in the OED, as the notion of taking a gap year first took off in the United Kingdom.  It was in 1972 that “Gap Activity Projects” (later renamed Lattitude Global Volunteering) was first established in the UK, and the concept has been gaining in popularity since then!

There are many reasons, or combination of reasons, why someone may opt to take a gap year.  For instance (in random order):

  • Broaden horizons / see more of the world
  • Explore different careers
  • Explore different study options
  • Burned out after high school
  • Learn a new language / discover other cultures
  • Study / work on college admission requirements
  • Adventure
  • Learn more about themselves and their passions / personal growth and development

Depending on one’s motivation for taking a gap year, there’s a wide spectrum of different activities in which to engage during this time.  For instance, students may enroll in classes, volunteer, work for pay, secure an internship (paid or unpaid), travel, or challenge themselves with outdoor adventures (e.g. hiking the Appalachian Trail, taking part in Outward Bound or NOLS, or enrolling at The Island School).

Many colleges and universities even have official policies in place through which accepted students are allowed to defer their admission by 12 months in order to pursue a gap year.  For information relevant to specific schools, click here.

A gap year isn’t for everyone, of course, but if reading the above post made your heart skip a beat (oh, the possibilities!) and you think that a gap year may be for you but aren’t sure where to start, I have a great resource to recommend – The American Gap Association’s list of accredited members. Simply click here!  Also of note is that there are Gap Year Fairs that are definitely worth checking out. Finally, here are a few more programs to consider:

In short, mind the gap by having a gap year in mind!