In follow up to Malia Obama's news that she will be attending Harvard University in the Fall of 2017 after a gap year, I thought I would talk to you all about planning to take a gap year.
A gap year is the 12+ months between high school graduation and entrance into a college or university as an undergraduate. Oftentimes, students will take this gap in education as a time to travel, spend with family, or work a little to gain some extra cash. Especially if you are interested in doing a Rotary Exchange experience in a foreign country, you can do it between these years. But, here's the major question: Should I take a gap year?
The first thing you need to think about is if a gap year is actually going to benefit you in the long-run. Did high school exhaust you or did you do everything you could to get through the last four years of high school? If so, a gap year or even a gap semester may be a good idea. It gives you an opportunity to refocus and enjoy a break from testing and homework. Especially if you had an illness, whether physical or mental, that left you grasping to complete the school year, take the extra time to focus on yourself and becoming healthy again!
Next, you will want to check with the university's admissions and financial aid office to determine if deferring your admissions (saving your acceptance/place for next year's class) is a possibility. There may be deadlines or guidelines that they can provide you to make it an easier transition and decision-making process. They may also be able to help you with any credit courses or experiences you may complete during your gap year.
Third, you will want to see if it is financially feasible for you to take that gap year. If you are choosing to travel, you will want to double-check and make sure that you or your family will be able to pay for it. This will be time without a part-time job and without schooling, so the only thing you will gain is life experience. While invaluable, make sure you consider the financial ramifications. If you decide to use your gap year to work at home, make sure you are using that money to save for the future, as opposed to spending it frivolously while you live at home. No matter what though, when making your decision try to make the best financial decision for your future as well.
Lastly, it is necessary to recognize that your goals and future aspirations may change during your gap year. Especially if you are traveling or working, it may show you a new career path to pursue. Because of this, a result of your gap year could be needing to reapply for admission to another university for another program. While you can't plan on this happening, it is important to have that conversation with yourself and with your family that these new experiences could provide you with a new mindset and future plan!
Taking a gap year is a serious decision to consider, so it is important to weigh the options correctly and appropriately. Have conversations with your school counselor, your family, and your admissions counselors to see if it is feasible and to gain advice on what to pursue during that gap year!
Are you planning to take a gap year or are you wondering more about it? Comment below with your plans, thoughts, or questions! I'd love to hear about it!
enjoy the chase,
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