• Education
  • Parenting

Is taking a gap year the best option for your student?

Posted
Teen works with a mentor on engineering equipment.
In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. What is a gap year?
2. What are the advantages?
3. What are the disadvantages?

Not every student interested in college enters immediately after high school. Some need more time to mature, while others want to explore career paths before selecting a major. For reasons like this, some families may want to consider a gap year for their young adult.

1. WHAT IS A GAP YEAR?  

A gap year is a semester or year of experiential learning to deepen the student’s practical, professional and personal awareness, typically taken after high school and before career or post-secondary education, according to the Gap Year Association, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization. Students usually use this type of sabbatical to explore careers, travel or save money for higher education.

2. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?

Students should consider a gap year for the right reasons with a strategy, says Kathleen Karran-McCoy, interim associate vice president of enrollment and retention at Palm Beach State College.  “A gap year is an intentional opportunity for the student to grow – those things have to be planned,” she says. She lists the advantages as learning responsibility, either by developing discipline by being a reliable employee, contributing to household expenses or managing personal finances.

Students are most successful when they use their gap year to tackle something new, says Jeffrey Selingo, author of “There is Life After College.” The experience should be used to explore areas of curiosity, apprentice under a mentor, travel and/or master a skill. The goal should be to develop attributes for college and a career, such as self-esteem, self-sufficiency, communication skills and analytical thinking.

3. WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?

Families should consider the cost of a gap year, Karran-McCoy says. If not planned properly, time and money could be wasted. The student’s maturity level and self-motivation also should be seriously evaluated. For the most successful outcome, Karran-McCoy recommends planning an intentional year. “Know what you expect to gain from the experience.”

SOURCES:

 • Kathleen Karran-McCoy, interim associate vice president of enrollment and retention, Palm Beach State College
Gap Year Association
• Jeffrey Selingo, “There is Life After College” 

You May Also Like

    • Education
    • Parenting

    Getting college & career ready: Tips for seniors (12th grade)

    This checklist will help your senior stay on top of what it takes to apply to college and beyond. Read on for resources and tips from Achieve Palm Beach County, a collective impact …

    Read More
    • Education
    • Parenting

    Many local resources can guide teen parents to college, career

    College and a career may seem out of reach for some teen parents. But local resources can help teens navigate these tough issues and prepare for their family's future. Just tap her …

    Read More
    • Education
    • Parenting

    Use this financial aid timeline for college-bound seniors

    Check out this month-by-month guide for seniors to help pay for college. It can serve as a handy checklist to stay organized through a complicated, detailed process. …

    Read More
    • Education
    • Other
    • Parenting

    Worried about paying for college? Experts can help

    There are a number of options when it comes to paying for college. Our local experts recommend to start planning early to ensure you'll have the resources. Read on for more of thei …

    Read More

Related resources

    • Behavior
    • Education
    • Health

    School District of Palm Beach County

    School Counseling — fosters academic achievement, college and career readiness, and social/emotional development

    561-434-8233 Website
    • Education
    • Parenting

    Achieve Palm Beach County

    A collective impact initiative of Palm Beach County organizations focused on ensuring college access and success for all students in Palm Beach County. United Way of Palm Beach County serves as the backbone agency for this countywide effort.

    561-375-6653 Website