A lot of people (parents... We're looking at you too...) have this idea that college is the automatic next step after high school. But the truth is, you have to be prepared for college. Really prepared... especially if you're heading to a college away from home.
College requires a lot of preparation, foresight, strategic planning, hard work and follow through. Students and parents who understand the heavy weight of the application process spend endless hours, years before they apply, painstakingly charting a plan to compiling a stellar application. The stress and anxiety of the application process has caused a lot of students to enter college burnt out and unable to produce the same quality of work that they assumed they would be able to at the tertiary level. But... some people have found a solution... The Gap Year.
Instead of entering college right after high school, more and more students are choosing to take a gap year, or rather, a bridge year - a term coined by the founder of Global City Year, Abby Falik.
Now before you get upset at the fact that we'd ever suggest this as an option and close the tab right away, take a look at some recent statistics about Gap Year students:
Gap Year Fact #1: Students who took a gap year achieve 23% higher grades than students who went straight to college.
Many studies suggest that taking a break after high school will actually aid academic performance in the long run.
Gap Year Fact #2: 60% of gap year students reported that they took their academics more seriously after sitting a year out of school.
Parents, you know all too well that the realities of jobs and budgeting can be deeply motivating to pursue higher education.
Gap Year Fact #3: 60% of gap year students said that taking a break from rigid academics actually helped them to decide their major and realize their future career direction.
This makes a lot of sense given that for the first time in their lives, students will have time to explore their passions beyond the classroom for extended periods of time.
Gap Year Fact #4: 90% of gap year students return to college within a year.
See? The majority of them do CHOOSE school in the end. And we can estimate that at least half of the remaining 10% have simply chosen to focus on other non-academic career goals!
Gap Year Fact #5: 88% of students who took a gap year indicated that they thought that their gap year added to their employability.
It can also help with your college applications too! Students who take a gap year and choose to return to school are more likely to graduate from college because they tend to be more clear about their end goals!
A gap / bridge year gives students a chance to stop, rest, and reflect on the trajectory they'd like to take in life. This year builds the foundation of what is needed to be successful in college: global skills, grit, and self-awareness. No classroom beats the real world experience of learning how to function in a corporate job amongst adults, figuring out how to teach students Math in a poverty stricken town, or how to finance your community based charity.
The problem solving skills and the clarity gained from taking the time to figure out what the foundation of your successful life should be is invaluable, and manifests a confidence that produces direction when college starts.
A gap year should be filled with adventure, self-reflection, and fulfilling work; but what should always be at the forefront of one's mind is that life isn't a race. Take the opportunity to slow down and take that breath.
Here's a list of some (not all) ways you can spend your gap year:
- Getting a job in an industry that you've been curious or passionate about
- Volunteering at a charity that aligns with your values
- Learning a new technical skill
- Starting a business
- Traveling and curating meaningful experiences
- Enrolling in an online course that aligns with one of your interests
- Shadowing professionals in industries that interest you
- Starting a YouTube channel or podcast about a topic that interests you
- Participating in research that intrigues you
- Starting a project that helps build your community
A gap year is a great way to ease the turmoil of the high school-college transition process. It allows for development of soft skills, experience, knowledge and clarity that makes your college experience more directed and beneficial.
If you think a gap year is the right choice for you, contact the AIM Online Academy and let's help you figure out your WINNING path!