Are you thinking about taking time off before starting your post secondary education? This period of time off, also know as a gap year, can be a useful way to prepare for your education and learn more about yourself.
Are curious about gap years? Watch the video or read the information below.
A gap year is time off before you start full-time college or university. We say ‘gap year,’ but it doesn’t need to last a year; it can last from a few months to a few years. You have to figure out what is best for you. It is not just time off to do nothing. It can be an important opportunity for you to get to know yourself and what you want. You might want to take a gap year for any of the reasons below:
Gap years are more popular in Europe, but they are catching on in Canada and the US because students and post-secondary institutions are discovering the benefits of them. Harvard University encourages their first year students to defer admissions for a year to take a gap year. Harvard says that students return motivated and higher performing, and that they see the purpose of attending the university. Princeton University uses the term “bridging year” to describe a gap year as a bridge between finishing up high school and beginning post-secondary.
In order to make your gap year worthwhile, it is important to think about why you want to take a gap year and what you hope to accomplish. This can also help you figure out if taking a gap year is the right decision for you. Watch the video and follow the steps below to start planning.
Brainstorm and write down all the reasons you want to take a gap year.
To help you think of reasons, consider these questions:
These are tough questions, so spend some time really thinking about the answers.
Peter brainstormed all the reasons he might like to take time off. He came up with reasons such as learning more about himself, saving money, recharging after high school, traveling, figuring out what he wants to do, getting better marks in a course that he needs to get into the college program he wants, and becoming more sure that he picked the best program.
To be sure that a gap year is the best choice for you, think about the potential benefits and any concerns you have:
Write down all the pros and cons you can come up with for taking a gap year. What are your main concerns? You can then research to determine if your concerns are realistic.
A concern could be “I will be behind all my friends.”
What does “behind” mean?
From the list you brainstormed in Step 1, identify a couple of key goals for your gap year. These goals should be clear and realistic. Once your goals have been identified, you need to begin to plan for how you will accomplish them. Check out the information in Ways to Explore for help with this.
Is your child thinking about taking a gap year? Watch the video or read the information for parents below.
Many parents can be apprehensive about their child taking a gap year. You may be worried that your child will never get a post-secondary education, that they will fall “behind” their peers, or that they will be wasting a year. You may also have safety concerns if your child is travelling.
It is important to remember that there are many people taking gap years every year. Worrying is normal as a parent; however, the benefits your child can experience by taking a gap year should be reason to look a little more into their plan.
Review the other sections on this page to get an idea about the benefits of a gap year, and to find information and resources for planning a gap year. Purposeful, meaningful and well planned out gap years can help your child to develop maturity, confidence, skills, and a better understanding of potential fields they want to pursue. The key is that it should be planned, purposeful and meaningful.
Get involved in the planning process with them, and try and avoid judgement. Research and information are key for a successful gap year. Remind them you will be there as a support because things might not always go as planned and that is ok. Seek out your own supports from other parents whose children are taking gap years.
Your goal for taking a gap year might involve spending time pursuing your interests, developing your existing skills in preparation for your program, and becoming more self-aware about what you want. Watch the video and read the text below to learn about some ways you can pursue this goal.
You might want to take the opportunity to travel before you are tied down to full time work or school. Travelling can also be a way to become more independent and develop skills like problem solving. Many people also incorporate paid work or volunteer work into their travels. What ever you choose to do, it is important to do your homework if you want to travel during your gap year.
Watch the video and read the text below to learn about the considerations for your travel plans.
Your purpose. Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of your travel experience, what you want to learn, or what skill you want to develop. Having a clear purpose and goal will help with your research.
See the related resources for some programs for travelling and working abroad.
If you identified a goal of working and saving money, there are many resources that can help you.
Budgeting is important to achieve your goal of saving money, and it will be a useful skill to have when you are in school. Here are some tips to help you get started: