Gap years are becoming more common for students because they may feel as if they aren’t ready to make the transition right into college. There are a number of gap year programs after high school that help students explore different areas and become more in tune with who they are. With so many schools and students being impacted by quarantine, gap years look more attractive than ever.
What Makes a Great Gap Year Program?
Gap year programs have a number of incentives and no two gap year programs are alike. Here are a few things to consider when looking for the best gap year programs before college:
There are reviews everywhere, but you can find these online that describe the experiences in detail. There are also reviews available from the organization where you can speak to individuals who have actually been a part of the program and can be completely transparent. This will help determine if the program is a good fit.
Because there are different types of gap year programs in the U.S., and then there are options to take a gap year abroad, it’s important to have all the information about the program without having to search too hard. The prices, what the program includes, the curriculum, housing, travel, and meals should all be outlined and easily accessible. Additional information on the program should be included to make sure any additional questions can be formulated.
Some programs stand-alone, but there are some gap year programs that have partnered with other well-known organizations to provide an enriched experience. Asking about any university partnerships or bridge programs with organizations that may allow you to do research, intern, or volunteer in some capacity is key. This will also help determine if the program is a good fit.
A gap year is an amazing experience but should be geared toward some future goal. There are alumni support resources that can assist once the program is over that will manifest after college such as getting placed in a job, providing letters of recommendation, networking with other alumni, and other support.
Respect for local culture, environment, and individuals
The best programs help individuals evolve, learn and grow. Whether going abroad or enjoying a program in the U.S., gap year programs help other organizations in some capacity. If volunteering, how are students going to support their projects, so they can learn? All of these are considerations when choosing a good program.
Level of support and assistance
The best gap programs provide support throughout the entire process. Being able to speak to faculty or other students who have gone through the program that can answer those detailed questions makes a difference. What about students who need vegan or kosher options? What about support staff? How available are they for students? Is there a person available 24 hours a day for questions? What happens if someone needs help? Although independent programs are great, there are some students who work better with assistance.
It’s always good to have some people within the industry who have confidence in the program, especially if it is industry-related. There are gap year programs offered in medicine, business, or other professions that are run by top professionals in the field to ensure students receive the best training and experience.
Gap Years are Evolving
One of the great things about gap programs is that they are always changing and adding cool, new elements. There are new programs being added every year that may be a good fit. Although there are some programs that are tried and true, there is always room for new programs to make the cut. Online searches are a good way to find out.
Social media is also a great way to find gap year programs. Instagram has helped students follow others who are participating in these types of programs on a day-to-day basis, removing all doubt. Now that reels and videos are also a huge part of social media, getting real-time information is easier than ever.
The key to finding the best gap year programs really depends on the student. Being able to communicate with others in different countries lends a different perspective and helps make the decision whether to do a program in the U.S. or one that’s abroad. Gap years can add tons of value through this experience that will help broader thinking once the student begins college. With gap year programs, there aren’t really any limitations – everything is an open book.