Gap Year Information & Resources
What is a gap year?
A gap year is an intentional year off taken between the end of high school and the start of the next formal step. Some students travel, others do an extended volunteer service with an organization like AmeriCorps, and others work or do an internship in a particular field.
If students are intentional about a gap year before entering college, the benefits can be significant. Students come to college with more maturity and with more readiness for upper-level academic work.
Please realize that a gap year does not have to be expensive. Some of the organized programs are indeed expensive—you may be paying travel, living, and arrangement expenses—but they do not have to be. Check out the available resources and then use your resources and connections to create your own experience.
What are the potential benefits to a gap year?
There are several potential benefits. The authors of the book The Self-Driven Child put it this way:
Before spending the energy and money on a college experience, it just makes sense to bring a more mature brain into the equation. This is particularly true for kids who have ADHD (in whom development of the prefrontal cortex lags behind that of other kids) and kids who see college not as a meaningful growth opportunity but as an obligation. Another reason is financial: Spending huge tuition on kids who hate school is a really risky proposition. . . .Those who have taken a gap year, it turns out, finish college more quickly because they’ve taken the time to sharpen their focus. Fifty-seven percent of people commenting on their gap year said it helped them figure out what they wanted to study. In contrast, consider that almost half of students who enroll in four-year colleges don’t graduate at all.
--Gap Years: How Can Starting Behind Put Kids Ahead? Psychology Today 8.14.2018
Four ways to find out more about Gap Year Programs:
- Attend the Seattle Gap Year Fair. The fair usually in February, and has been at Roosevelt High School for the past two years. The event has a featured speaker and a fair-type format during which you can browse various programs.
- Explore the listings in Naviance. Go to the Colleges tab > scroll down to college research > click on enrichment programs. Some of the listings are summer opportunities, and some are gap year experiences.
- Check out the listings and resources in this Gap or Service Year Programs list.
- View the You Tube video My Gap Year Experience by 2016 Shorewood Grad Krystin Kalvoy. She applied to colleges her senior year and then deferred admission for a year while she spent a year in Norway.