What is a Gap Year Program?
In the past decade, more and more students are exploring alternative options for education that provide a foundation for developing a global perspective, focus on personal growth, and supply opportunity to gain incredibly meaningful life experience. Rather than jumping into a new chapter of life with no time to refocus or prepare, people are choosing to go on gap year programs and expand their horizons outside of the traditional education sphere. Oftentimes unanswered common questions prevent people from taking the leap into the unknown and actually going on a gap year to experience the copious benefits of a year abroad firsthand.
Firstly, what is a gap year program?
A gap year program is an extended period of time, usually a semester or year, for experiential learning and development outside of a traditional classroom setting. Gap years can encompass many essential life skills and can be extremely valuable in understanding yourself and the world better. There are a wide variety of time frames to go on a gap year program for students and adults in all stages of life. Gap years are generally focused at major turning points in your life, such as graduating from high school, during college, or graduating from college and entering a career.
What is a gap year program after high school?
There are many ways a gap year program after high school molds your perspective. (LINK). The transition from high school to college is one of the most daunting changes in a young adult's life. Gap year programs for students after high school seek to make the transition easier by providing fundamental skills that transfer into the college environment when they return and far beyond. By stepping out into a different environment that is challenging, exciting, and rewarding, it provides rest to the mind and opportunity to experience challenges that better prepare you for post-secondary education or career.
What is a gap year program in college?
A gap year program while in college differs from a traditional gap year before or after school because you can earn college credit while being away from a traditional learning environment. It is also different from a study abroad program because it’s main focus is on a more experimental type of learning while earning college credit instead of classroom education in a foreign country as the main focus.
The differences between the two are mainly education based. Many programs may be devoted fully to providing a more personal humanitarian experience by service, adventure, or human growth but if necessary, can provide options for students to earn college credit on top of it all. If you desire to take a gap year and still earn college credit, make sure to set this as criteria when researching possible gap year programs. When you find a gap year program that suits your personal interests, reach out to the organization and find out if they offer this educational credit.
What is a gap year program after college?
You have just graduated from college. So many years of education and study have paid off and you are ready to enter into a career field you have trained hard for. However, your mind is fried from the overstimulation of school. You are in dire need of a change of scenery and a chance to refocus your mind to better prepare for the career that lies ahead of you. Good news! Gap year programs aren't just for high school and college-aged students. Adults can take gap years as well!
Many people choose to join a gap year program the year after they finish their postsecondary education requirements and in the midst of career transitions. Graduating from college, working in a corporate career, or simply experiencing burnout from living in repetition can propel people to seek change in their lives and go in search of meaning and service. Life comes with so many unexpected changes and challenges and adults need time to experience life in a different way to recenter their beliefs and rebuild their strengths. Gap year programs are meant to shift your perspective, no matter how old you are or what you have been through!
What is a gap year program not?
A gap year program is not a time of stagnancy. Instead, it is a time for development and broadening your horizons instead of spending wasted time taking a year to lounge around or not seek new or challenging situations.
Gap year programs are not just for educational learning. They can be one of the most completely exhilarating experiences of your life. No matter where you go or what program you go on, you will spend your year experiencing life in a powerful and fun way! You will meet friends that will provide endless entertainment and be able to explore and go on adventures with one another in so many parts of the world!
A gap year program is not a mistake. Many misconceptions circulate that gap years are a waste of time and money and only exist for people to avoid their responsibilities. However, if you are truly seeking to find growth by encountering the world you will gain so much out of your gap year, you will find it far beyond what you can imagine!
What are some possible ways a gap year program could impact me?
Making the decision to attend a gap year at any point in your life is setting the foundation for allowing you to learn about the world as much as you will learn about your personal self and your ambitions and desires. Gap years are about growth and change. They are a time to focus on what truly matters and make an impact on yourself and the world around you by challenging yourself to a different standard of living and learning. No matter the program you go on, a gap year program is sure to be an unforgettable and life-changing experience.
I’m in! Where do I start?
To fully absorb the most out of a gap year you must seek internally and understand what you are looking to gain the most. Is it a specific skill? Is it traveling to a culture widely different from your own? Is it mission-based? Does it align with your personal motivations and life view? Oftentimes you may find that a lot of the things you want to gain go hand in hand together to provide a year of experience that checks all of these boxes! Spending time to research programs that align with the experiences you seek will provide the foundation for possible options and allow you to weed out any that do not fit well.
When asking yourself, “what is a gap year program and which one should I go on?”, the answer is completely subjective! There are thousands of opportunities that can join a wide variety of individual passions and goals. When choosing what gap year program to go on, think deeply about what skills you would like to gain, what you want to experience, and where you want to go! Narrowing down the wide variety of options can be challenging, but when you find the right one, it will be a completely transformative experience! Nonetheless, you are guaranteed to see yourself changed and on your way to experiencing a year of adventure, growth, and refocusing! If you are in high school, college, or a career, taking a gap year can be a platform for excelling in any future endeavor you may have!