Exploring “The Gap Year”

Thursday, June 16, 2022
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Graduation is near, and you or your high school student aren’t ready to make a decision about college. Maybe they didn’t get accepted into their dream school, were waitlisted, or are simply ready for a small break. Whatever the reason, there is a way to help your student stay focused and on track with a gap year. 

What Is a Gap Year? 

A gap year is a year-long or semester-long break from school. Gap years can be an effective pause to reevaluate and regroup one's priorities. There are many services to help you or your student during this time. The National Society of High School Scholars offers membership programs that can help you to make decisions during your gap year. Membership with  NSHSS is a great way to create an effective plan and execute it. A gap year doesn’t need to be a bad thing or seen as a waste of time. There are some great opportunities available to you or your student during a gap year.  

When to Take a Gap Year

If life doesn’t quite seem back to normal since the pandemic, you aren’t alone. Some universities have chosen to remain “distant” with online classes and suspended events. Without the full college experience, attending a university just yet may not seem worth it. The article, When Does It Make Sense to Take a Gap Year (And When Doesn’t It? Provides some great information about gap years. 

You can take a gap year before college, during college, or even after college. Setting time aside to evaluate your life can be very beneficial. It can also provide you with some great volunteer opportunities.

What Can I Do During a Gap Year?

There are many paths you or your student can take during a gap year. While many choose to jump into work, this may not be your best option. It is important to identify the reason behind taking a gap year and what your plan is when your year is over. If your plan is to head to college, think of your gap year as a non-academic way to build your resume. It is also an opportunity to have great experiences such as volunteering, engaging with a new community, and making valuable connections. 

One of the National Society of High School Scholars partnerships is with Outward Bound Costa Rica. This great program will help you to learn outdoor skills, grow as a leader, gain language skills, and serve others. By meeting remote indigenous and local communities you can enjoy authentic experiences. These experiences are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that will help you to learn and grow as a person. Outward Bound Costa Rica offers a specific gap year and semester abroad program. As part of this program, you will complete outdoor certifications and service projects. This opportunity is unlike any type of classroom learning. Experiences such as Outward Bound Costa Rica are an essential part of building needed life-long skills. 

Another partnership program offered by the NSHSS is through United Planet. This nonprofit is dedicated to connecting volunteers with communities in over 20 different countries. In this experience, individuals will learn, teach, work, and engage with a new community and culture. Volunteers work to make real change in these communities. 

United Planet also offers three different scholarship opportunities for NSHSS members. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities if you choose to take part in this experience.     

Taking advantage of volunteer opportunities, travel, and resume-building activities is an excellent way to spend a gap year. You can really make a difference in a community and feel as if your time was well spent. Learning is a lifelong process and often takes place outside the classroom.    

After the Gap Year

Once you have a solid gap year plan, it is also important to consider what you will do when the gap year is over. You may have chosen to defer your university acceptance or apply at the end of the gap year. If this is your situation, don’t let scholarship opportunities pass you by. NSHSS has a wide variety of scholarships to help you fund your college experience. 

A gap year can be a way to rest, reset, and reevaluate your goals. It is also an opportunity to volunteer, serve others, and travel. A gap year can be a successful experience if you have the right plan. Check out NSHSS for more information about membership and special partnership programs.