Is your student thinking about doing a gap year before attending college? When you explore formalized gap year programs, you may be struck by this thought—these gap year programs are expensive!
Most formalized gap year programs have an international travel component which makes the price go up. (You can read more about whether or not a gap year is right for your student in this blog post.)
What about taking classes from a community college?
Many parents think that a student can defer their acceptance to college and take some classes at a community college during that year. Possibly, but maybe not. Most colleges will require that the student NOT take classes elsewhere. If they do take courses for credit, the student will need to reapply as a transfer student.
So, what are some less expensive gap year options?
One of the best ideas? Students can work and explore future careers. We always strongly encourage teens to have part time jobs before heading to college. Of course, they will be able to save money, but in addition they learn what it means to work for someone else, interact with co-workers, serve customers, maintain a schedule, and much more. Perhaps they can find a job related to their future career goals?
Gap years are meant to be for exploration…so taking time to explore your career field is a good and valuable thing. Spend time researching…maybe some informational interviews? Exploring potential future employers? If paid employment is not an option in your field, perhaps look for non-paying/internship-type roles. You might have to think outside the box. But even just working at Raising Canes while doing outside future career research is valuable.
You can also incorporate volunteering into your year. This blog looks at several possibilities. National companies like AmeriCorps might be worth exploring, and there are plenty of local companies that need help. In Central Ohio, the MidOhio Food Bank is among the charities always seeking help. Even just volunteering for elderly neighbors would be a great experience.
One more quick thing to consider about gap years
If you take a year off, keep those thinking, reasoning, and WRITING muscles active. Taking a break from “school-brain” can be a hard adjustment when it is time to return to your academics.
Whether or not to take a gap year and what to do with it is a lot to weigh and evaluate. We wish we had a magic wand, but alas, we do not. Carefully consider what is best for your family and go from there.
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