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Talk to me about a gap year after high school


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#1 CaliforniaDreaming

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 06:39 PM

Talk to me about a gap year after high school. I have heard there can be some disadvantages in scholarships? I am not sure how waiting a year to apply impacts the college application process. I have a child going into 9th next year who is already talking about taking a gap year after high school graduation (she is tired of school already and we haven't even gotten to the hard stuff yet, lol..) I am remaining neutral about this possibility and of course she may change her mind before that time. I would just like to research and understand any issues that might arise. I searched past threads but I didn't come up with much on this topic.

This would be for a public university or small, private LAC. Nothing Ivy league or super competitive as far as I can tell.

I will cross post this on the high school boards as well.

#2 Lori D.

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:24 PM

There are 2 common ways to do a gap year and attend college afterwards. I mostly hear of people doing the first route:

 

1. During the 11th grade year, check out colleges -- esp. looking carefully at the gap year policies and talking with the admissions and the financial aid offices -- and decide which schools to apply to. During the fall semester of 12th grade: apply to colleges, receive acceptance letters and financial aid packages, and by spring, choose which college to accept, and work out the formal gap year deferment arrangement (in writing from them with guarantees about admission and financial aid!) with the college of choice.

 

2. Push the process back a year. Search for colleges in 11th/12th grade. Do the gap year. During the fall/winter of the gap year, start applying for colleges, receive acceptance letters and financial aid packages, and by spring of the gap year, choose which college to accept, and work out a deferment with the college.

 

#1 works best if you are leaving the country or if you want to fully immerse in the gap year (even if it's local), and have the college application process already done and know you are "good to go" when you return from the gap year.

 

#2 works best if undecided about college and wanting some extra time to figure it all out, AND, you will be available and have time DURING the gap year to also work on the college admission process.

 

"What You Need to Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year" -- general info article covering both options

 

The most important thing about taking a gap year is to have a solid plan in advance of the gap year. Below are a few tips from the gap year section of a homeschool high school session on post-high school options I put together a few years back. And here are a few past threads on gap year:

"Let's chat about gap years"

"Revisiting the gap year concept" -- follow-up thread to the above

"Suggestions for what to do for 2 gap years"

 

============

 

ETA: IMPORTANT -- do NOT take college classes in a gap year!!

The OTHER very important thing to know about taking a gap year and attending college afterwards is that you can NOT under any circumstances take any college courses (university or community college, in-class or on-line) during the gap year, as that loses the freshman eligibility and loses the scholarships.

 

============

 
 

BEST of luck as you and DD plan for the future! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

_______________________________

 

GAP YEAR

 

Discuss & Plan the Gap Year

In advance WITH your student, over a period of months, set specific goals, expectations, and a time frame:

- listen to your student; resist the temptation to provide unsolicited advice

- use this as a learning and maturing opportunity for the student

   * brainstorm ideas with the student, but have the student do the research

   * help your student develop decision-making skills / problem-solving strategies:

     "How will you deal with _______?"

     "What about _________?"

     "What is the process for _________?"

- make a specific "game plan"; write down decisions and expectations:

   * set limits on how much you will financially support the gap year

   * start and stop dates

   * what the student will do/accomplish

- student lists, and then learns any skills that will be needed during gap year

- student lists, and then learns any emergency contingencies

   * health training (First Aid, CPR, vaccinations, illness prevention/recovery, etc.)

   * personal safety (travel, theft, finances, fire, etc.)

   * emergency contacts

   * how to find help

- tentatively plan for the transition after the gap year, now that the student is an adult:

   * where the student will live

   * if living at home, work out general expectations: chore, meals, rent/no rent, expenses, entertaining/going out; etc.

   * what student will do after the gap year (work, school, internship, apprenticeship, follow an opportunity from the gap year….)

 

Possible Goals of a Gap Year

- personal development/maturing

- work and save money

- pursue an internship or other opportunities to dig into area of passion/future career area

- volunteering

- exploration of what's out there

- wilderness/adventure to expand horizons or "push yourself"

 

Types of Gap Year Activities

- Local gap year: work or internship or volunteer or self-study (with things like Coursera, MOOCs, Teaching Company, etc.)

- Wilderness/Adventure

   * Outward Bound

   * Adventures Cross Country

   * AmeriCorps:National Civilian Conservation Corps

- Living/Working Abroad

   * peace walking -- European Peace Walk -- also, 1-2 sons of WTMer Nan in MASS organized their own peace walks

   * work on a cruise ship, as an au pair, temp worker in a country as you travel, etc...

- Service/Volunteering Abroad

   * Thinking Beyond Borders -- make sure it's real/helpful volunteering, and not "volun-tourism"

   * Experience Mission (Christian) -- mission trips, immersion, internships

   * Global Frontier Missions (Christian) -- short term missions

   * Adventures in Missions: Passport (Christian) -- short term missions

   * United Planet -- gap year abroad volunteering

   * Projects Abroad

   * Volunteer Forever -- links to gap year abroad volunteering projects

- Service/Volunteering Domestically (but not in your own home town)

   * AmeriCorps: Vista = partner programs in various service areas; NCCC and Network = teams that respond to disasters

 

Gap Year Resources:

The Complete Guide to the Gap Year (2009) by Kristin White

The Gap Year Guidebook (2017) by Sophie Perry

Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People (2013) by Joseph O'Shea -- OR -- Gap to Great: A Parent's Guide to the Gap Year (2015)  by Andrea Wein

USA Gap Year Fairs -- conferences with info and contact people for organizations, etc.

- Go Abroad website -- Gap Year articles

Planet Gap Year website --  focuses on financial aspect of a gap year


Edited by Lori D., 14 February 2018 - 12:44 PM.

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#3 Hoggirl

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:34 PM

Anybody else on here think Lori D. Is the BOMB??????
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#4 Lori D.

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:35 PM

Anybody else on here think Lori D. Is the BOMB??????

 

:smilielol5:


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#5 FuzzyCatz

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 08:43 AM

One thing I was going to say, is since you have an 8th grader one option would be just to repeat 8th grade and use that year for more hands on/unschooling/etc if she's feeling burnt out.  I really think the middle school/through puberty ages can be the hardest.  I know other homeschoolers who've done this for various reasons.  Or who've undone a grade skip when their kid hits puberty and needs some time to let the executive function kick in.  And it doesn't necessarily have to do with academic level either.  You can always dual enroll and do more rigorous coursework.  The ease of that may depend on your location.  But I have academically ahead kids I am not comfortable graduating early and have always had ample opportunities for them where we live.  High school graduates range from Harvard ready down to possibly not CC ready. 


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#6 J-rap

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 09:11 AM

All five of my children took a gap year.  None regret it.  (Two met their future spouses during that gap year!  :))  Two of them actually applied for and settled on a college as though they were going to go immediately after high school, and then took an official deferment.  One applied to colleges right before leaving on her gap year, so during the summer after 12th grade, and then had most of the leg work done by the time she left on her gap year in the fall.  She did have to work around some of the auditions for scholarships, which took place in the spring of her gap year but she was too far away to participate.  Still, many colleges will help you figure it out if they can.

 

Colleges have different policies on gap years.  Some of my kids took classes during their gap years, but they were international and not accredited, and the college didn't even consider accepting the courses and my kids were considered freshmen, not transfers.  One college my dd looked at required students who took any kind of gap year at all -- whether they took any classes or not -- to register as a transfer student.  (They had plenty of scholarships available though, and I don't believe this would have affected her scholarship status much if at all, although in the end she didn't apply there.)  One college allowed students to take up to three classes during a gap year and still apply as a freshman.  So you can see, they were all different.

 

Two of my kids ended up transferring colleges at some point though, even after starting out at a college following gap year.  They were always able to get good scholarships, even as transfer students.  They mostly went to smaller private colleges/universities, although one ended up going to a bigger state college.

 

One of my dd's never did go to college.  She had developed chronic pain issues in high school, and realized she felt better without the stress of academics.  I sometimes wonder if the gap year idea hadn't been in our family, perhaps she would have felt more motivated to just continue on to college without even thinking there was an option not to.  I think she'll do fine without college -- she's pretty self-sufficient and has her own goals -- but that's something to think about.  

 

 


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#7 Harriet Vane

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 09:50 AM

My dd had a fabulous gap year, and we have known other young adults who benefited from a gap year. My son is in the process of planning his.

 

Lori's post is a fabulous guide.

 

Especially heed Lori's words about no college classes. Not even a silly little exercise class. No classes.

 

We told our kids they need go somewhere, volunteer somewhere, earn money at least part of the time, and get some meaningful experience in their hoped-for career. We did not dictate how much time would be spent on each individual goal--we are open to whatever configuration seems to work best.

 

Dd's gap year went like this (goals in parenthesis):

 

--1 week assisting with a camp for disabled children (volunteer)

--12 weeks working at a beloved camp as a children's counselor (career experience, go somewhere, paid even if not much)

--5 months working retail AND tutoring in a poor neighborhood (earning, volunteering, career experience)

--6 weeks volunteering and working at a high school in South Africa (volunteering, travel, paid for running after-school literacy program, career experience)

--4 months working retail (earning)

 

It was very hard for me to put her on the plane for Africa, even knowing she was going to be with people we trusted. It was an absolutely phenomenal experience for her. Dd came back with new confidence in herself and fresh perspective.

 

The only other recommendation is to plan the gap year intentionally. No drifting. It's a precious time that needs to be used productively, with a clear end date and a transition to whatever is next (college, vocation, etc.).


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#8 suzanne4

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:02 AM

One thing I was going to say, is since you have an 8th grader one option would be just to repeat 8th grade and use that year for more hands on/unschooling/etc if she's feeling burnt out.  I really think the middle school/through puberty ages can be the hardest.  I know other homeschoolers who've done this for various reasons.  Or who've undone a grade skip when their kid hits puberty and needs some time to let the executive function kick in.  And it doesn't necessarily have to do with academic level either.  You can always dual enroll and do more rigorous coursework.  The ease of that may depend on your location.  But I have academically ahead kids I am not comfortable graduating early and have always had ample opportunities for them where we live.  High school graduates range from Harvard ready down to possibly not CC ready. 

 

I held both my boys "back" and it worked out great here.  They took very advanced CC courses (Calc I,II,III as well as University Physics, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, A &P I and II, etc).  That extra year gave them time to do more volunteer work which helped them figure out what they wanted to study in college. They also had another year to take college courses at the excellent local CC which then transferred to their four year college.  They were able to maintain freshman status for scholarship purposes.  

 

They also really enjoyed the extra year of high school activities including sports, musicals, etc. 


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#9 kokotg

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:53 AM

One thing I was going to say, is since you have an 8th grader one option would be just to repeat 8th grade and use that year for more hands on/unschooling/etc if she's feeling burnt out.  I really think the middle school/through puberty ages can be the hardest.  I know other homeschoolers who've done this for various reasons.  Or who've undone a grade skip when their kid hits puberty and needs some time to let the executive function kick in.  And it doesn't necessarily have to do with academic level either.  You can always dual enroll and do more rigorous coursework.  The ease of that may depend on your location.  But I have academically ahead kids I am not comfortable graduating early and have always had ample opportunities for them where we live.  High school graduates range from Harvard ready down to possibly not CC ready. 

 

I decided a couple of years ago to give my now 14 year old an extra year before high school (after seeing what a big jump in challenge/responsibility high school has been for my oldest), and I'm confident it was the right choice. My oldest didn't need it, but my second did. And, having taught college freshman for a couple of years when I was in grad school, I'm pretty sure there are few kids, particularly boys, who can't benefit from being a year older when they start college. 


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#10 Lori D.

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 12:44 PM

Just wanted to add on to the idea of doing a bonus year of middle school that was suggested by Fuzzycatz, suzanne4, and kokotg above -- that was my first thought too, hearing that the student was "tired of school".  :)

 

Here are some other threads on that idea:

"Middle school 'gap year' -- Have you ever heard of this?"

"Gap year before high school"

"Delay high school -- or gap year after high school?"

"Gap year between 8th & 9th?"

 

Also moving part of my initial post (about addressing why DD is tired of school already) down to this new post, so as to not distract ;) from post-high school gap year info above: 

 

"One last thing -- your statement about DD, that "she is tired of school already and we haven't even gotten to the hard stuff yet" might be an early warning sign to look in to and consider WHY DD is "tired of school":

- an undiagnosed lingering illness that is zapping her energy and needs to be treated?

- mental illness or emotional reaction to stressful/difficult life circumstance that need to be dealt with?

- mild LDs that make school much more draining for her?

- not having the opportunity or time to pursue her passions, to recharge?

- have you been schooling year-round, or going too long without a truly refreshing break?

- are your academic goals too rigorous, or not a good fit for DD not a good fit for her interests and strengths?"

 
 
Wishing you both all the BEST as you work through what is the best path for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D., 14 February 2018 - 12:45 PM.

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#11 Hoggirl

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 08:05 PM

And, having taught college freshman for a couple of years when I was in grad school, I'm pretty sure there are few kids, particularly boys, who can't benefit from being a year older when they start college.


Not to derail the thread, but why is this such a popular view?

#12 kokotg

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 08:33 PM

Not to derail the thread, but why is this such a popular view?

 

I had a LOT of kids who weren't ready for the freedom/responsibility of college. They seemed overwhelmed, had a hard time getting assignments done and preparing for class, and they didn't appreciate being there. And this was a pretty selective college; these were kids who had worked hard and done well in high school. It certainly wasn't true of every kid, but it was true of a surprising number of them. 



#13 Hoggirl

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 10:09 PM

I had a LOT of kids who weren't ready for the freedom/responsibility of college. They seemed overwhelmed, had a hard time getting assignments done and preparing for class, and they didn't appreciate being there. And this was a pretty selective college; these were kids who had worked hard and done well in high school. It certainly wasn't true of every kid, but it was true of a surprising number of them.


I guess I should be grateful that this was not the case for mine. He was young for his grade and grade-skipped on top of that.

In fact, this was a reason that a gap year would *not* have worked well for him. Many structured gap year programs that I have seen require students to be 18. He couldn't find summer work because many employers wanted employees to be at least 18 years old. He didn't turn 18 until the summer after his freshman year of college.
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#14 Gwen in VA

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 10:34 PM

We held ds#2 back a year in 8th grade due to lack of motivation / maturity issues.

 

He did NOT like being 19 when he entered college. He did NOT like the fact that in high school most of his friends were a year older than him so he was "alone" for the last two years of high school. He did NOT like the fact that he spent an extra year doing academics.

 

But what he did like --

He was able to do a slightly lighter academic load so he started a company, built kayaks, won a few national championships, went to India on a trip paid for by the Indian government (!), and worked at a company directly related to his current career field.

 

After all of his high school experiences, college seemed "stupid" to him so after a year he left and pursued his career. At age 24 he is married, owns his own home, and is re-starting his old company now that he has space for it again. He has even thanked me for holding him back a year so he had the time to do all those neat things in high school.

 

So you never know!


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#15 kokotg

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 10:35 PM

I guess I should be grateful that this was not the case for mine. He was young for his grade and grade-skipped on top of that.

In fact, this was a reason that a gap year would *not* have worked well for him. Many structured gap year programs that I have seen require students to be 18. He couldn't find summer work because many employers wanted employees to be at least 18 years old. He didn't turn 18 until the summer after his freshman year of college.

 

I'm fairly confident that my oldest (complete with summer b-day) will be fine in college at 18; kid has an impressive work ethic and is very self-motivated. He's really pushing himself in high school, though, so I definitely wouldn't object if he wanted a gap year to take a break from hard core academics (and save some money!) My next kid? Well, we'll see ;)


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#16 Lori D.

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 10:53 PM

Not to derail the thread, but why is this such a popular view?

 

Don't know if it's necessary "the popular view", but I have read SWB's comments about how she can really tell the young freshmen (17yo and just-turned-18), from the older freshmen (late-18yo and 19yo), and how the older freshmen do better overall in juggling college, in class discussion, and in writing papers for her classes. I'm sure that's a generalization, because there some very smart, mature students who graduate at age 16 and 17 and do very well in college. :)

 

We have 2 DSs, -- DS#2 was an average-to-later bloomer, and DS#1 has *always* been a *very*  delayed bloomer. DS#2 graduated at 18.5yo, and DS#1 had just turned 19 about 5 weeks before graduation. They only were ready for 1 class of DE each semester of 12th grade, and those later ages of graduation worked perfectly for both of them for successfully transitioning into college. A LOT of the homeschoolers in our local support group have graduated their DSs later -- but I've also known a fair number who have graduated students (girls and boys) at age 16-17, because they were ready to move on to college.

 

Long rambling way of saying that I think there's a wide spread of ages what is ready for college. ;)


Edited by Lori D., 14 February 2018 - 10:54 PM.

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#17 CaliforniaDreaming

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 12:12 AM

Thanks for so much information to ponder. These things are very good to know if she goes this route. She said she is not interested in a gap year now or another middle school year although I kind of like the idea myself. I might float it again and see if she is open to it.
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#18 suzanne4

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:12 AM

My son was very ready to leave for college "on time" both academically and socially. He would have done well.  While he didn't do anything exceptional during his fifth year,  he really enjoyed having the extra time to do his extracurricular activities that he loved for one more year.  We added another year of high school though, rather than a gap year, so he could take CC courses. 

We both appreciate that it gave him time to try out many different courses at the CC and volunteer/shadow before choosing a career. He is now in a very competitive, specialized BA/MS program.  That extra year really helped him solidify his choice as well as work on his applications and interviews. It was good for him in so many ways. 

 

My dd, on the other hand, was not using her time productively here, and was in a bad state. For her, the fresh start away at college has been really good.  She needed the structure of full time away college. She was not happy here, and she was not working toward any goal. 

 

They are all so different. It really depends on the student.  


Edited by suzanne4, 15 February 2018 - 10:22 AM.

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#19 cbollin

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:39 AM

I posted this on the cross post, but if it would benefit...

 

fwiw,

My middle daughter is having a year off. I don't know if "gap year" is the right vocabulary word to describe what she's doing since she is not in some fancy program. 

 

in terms of admission:

Originally, the college we thought she'd attend just deferred her admission.  No big deal with that.  just asked to change her from fall 17 to fall 18.  no reason given.  nice, smaller, local place.   scholarships stayed and all of that. but she wasn't national merit level either.

 

Then we realized she didn't really want to go there and will end up at the community college.  during her time off, she is working with a special needs dept at a local church to provide shadowing, and with a local homeschool PE class as assistant to the coaches.  She also cleans parts of the church (it's a very large building/community center).  And so far, through self study, has passed 3 CLEP exams that will count for gen ed requirements at the college that accepted her originally and the community college. and she plans to get a few more clep exams done so that she only has to take a handful of courses toward the associates she desires for paraprofessional work in early childhood ed.

The one scholarship that would be danger is a state grant.  If she doesn't start at either college by this fall (which is 16 months following high school graduation date), then that eligibility is gone.

There was also a state grant that she is not eligible to use at community college level that is program providing "last funds". That has to be started right after graduation. 

 

maybe none of that applies to situations of others on this forum since it's not about going to super selective universities, nor involving big things mentioned in gap years.

 

 

ps:  the 4 year college did tell us that she couldn't take college courses during gap year and keep scholarship as she'd be considered transfer student.  clep exams were not an issue to them .  In some ways, I almost wished we had just listed this year as her 5th year of high school or something.  but then I'd probably be second guessing myself on that.


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