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After filling out apps for the local state universities, interviewing with some private colleges, dd has decided she wants to take a year off.  She says she is too immature to take on the challenge of attending a four-year, wants to work, learn better life skills before applying next year.  Dh and I realize it's good that she came to this realization by herself.  

What we would like her to do, however, is take 1-2 classes through the local community college in her intended major to see if it's what she really wants to do(theater/performing arts).   She is our last one to leave the nest.  Our hearts will not be broken if she doesn't go, but really want her to find a career path she is passionate about.  

Anyone want to chime in on past experiences, shared stories, advice?   

 

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Colleges will NOT accept it as a gap year if she takes ANY college courses (either community college OR university, and whether taking it for credit OR for audit).

And further, that will change her eligibility from "freshman" to "transfer student".

Loss of freshman status largely means she will be knocked out of the running for the largest scholarships and the renewable scholarships, which are awarded to freshmen. Instead, she will come in as a transfer student -- there are far fewer transfer scholarships awarded, and they are for smaller amounts and tend to be 1-time awards rather than renewable.


Options:

1. Do an extra year of high school instead of a gap year.
Have her "walk" graduation at the end of this year, but do NOT award the homeschool diploma, and she can take courses at the community college as dual enrollment as a "super senior" or 5th year senior.

2. Don't do a gap year and go straight to community college instead.
Graduate, and just go on to college, starting with a few years at the community college while living at home, and transfer those credits eventually to a 4-year university to finish a Bachelor degree. So, NO gap year, but she can do as few or as many courses as desired (spread 2 years of gen. ed. credits and theater credits over 3 years!) and take her time to mature, AND still live at home.

3. Do a gap year and get theater experience WITHOUT college classes.
Take an actual gap year AND preserve freshman status AND still get some theater/performance experience -- she CAN participate in community theater (adult or youth, depending on age requirements). And she could volunteer -- with stage craft or make-up or costuming with community theater or at a high school theater department. She could take private lessons or do classes offered by a community theater group. It is only taking OR EVEN AUDITING coursework/credits taken through a community college or university that will knock out the freshman status.

4. Do a gap year WITHOUT classes, or theater experience.
Take an actual gap year and work, travel, explore, volunteer, and get some life experiences under her belt to help her mature, and see what she might want to do in the future.

If doing option 3 or 4, if she has already been accepted by a university, AND it looks like they will offer a scholarship, she needs to request a gap year deferment from the university she decides to go to in order for the university to "hold" her freshman status / freshman spot / freshman scholarship package. NOTE: Not all schools are willing to defer for students, so the student would lose any scholarship money -- so be sure to ASK each school she has applied to about their gap year deferment policies, and if she wants to do a gap year with a deferment, then only choose the school that offers the policy that matches up with her goals.


You might also look at some of the past threads on Gap Years, all linked on PAGE 6 of the big pinned thread "College Motherlode", which is at the top of the WTM college board:

Let’s chat about gap years 
Revisiting the gap year concept 
Talk to me about a gap year after high school 
Gap year ideas: have we lost our minds (specifically a wilderness experience) 
When to apply for college when a gap year is being planned? 
Gap year and financial aid 


BEST of luck as your family together researches and plans for a possible gap year! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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DO NOT take college classes during a gap year, for the reasons Lori outlines above. It's not worth the risk of losing freshman status. And, performing arts classes in particular (with online due to covid restrictions) would be a much better experience after the pandemic returns them to in person. The joy of being a theatre major is the community that forms in the college theatre department. (And fair warning, once you leave college and have to compete for jobs, that community does become more cutthroat.) Normally, the recommendation would be to get real-world experience (i.e. work or volunteer at a theatre) but I know that's not possible during covid.

Personally, as the mom of a theatre major who is lost with no backup plan, I would focus on having her spend the year exploring backup options in case theatre doesn't work out. It does not work out for many. The theatres my DD wanted to apply to after graduation (for lighting and/or set carpentry) are generally announcing massive layoffs, taking 'year off' from which they may not return without fundraising success, etc.

Theatres are in so much trouble right now.

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2 hours ago, JanetC said:

 

Personally, as the mom of a theatre major who is lost with no backup plan, I would focus on having her spend the year exploring backup options in case theatre doesn't work out. It does not work out for many. The theatres my DD wanted to apply to after graduation (for lighting and/or set carpentry) are generally announcing massive layoffs, taking 'year off' from which they may not return without fundraising success, etc.

Theatres are in so much trouble right now.

Sorry to hear that, Janet. Tough time for our creatives.

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Thank you for all of the input.  Some very sage advice...

Her drama teacher was pretty adamant that she find a back up for the reasons mentioned.  A few of the privates she would apply to will allow her to take 1-2 classes, at least based on last conversation.  The state universities, as Lori D. pointed out, would make her get the A.A. degree before transferring (Cal State system). 

Thanks again!

 

 

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4 hours ago, readinmom said:

... Her drama teacher was pretty adamant that she find a back up for the reasons mentioned.  A few of the privates she would apply to will allow her to take 1-2 classes, at least based on last conversation.  The state universities, as Lori D. pointed out, would make her get the A.A. degree before transferring (Cal State system). 

PLEASE be sure to double-check that those private schools will allow her to take 1-2 classes AND STILL COME IN AS A FRESHMAN!

There are unscrupulous admission offices that will say, "Sure! Come take some classes with us while you're on your Gap Year!" -- and neglect to inform you that changes your status from freshman to transfer student.

And totally agree about finding a back up. Maybe an AAS (Associate degree straight to work) in something that could work as a support to theater? Ideas:
- massage therapy
- cosmetology
- skin care specialist
- fitness trainer / aerobics instructor / yoga instructor
- performance coach for children

Totally not related to theater in any way, but if she is willing to work in a medical field and do theater as a side gig, these AAS degree jobs pay well, and only take 2 years to earn the degree:
- Nuclear Medicine Tech
- Occupational Therapy Tech/Asst
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Radiological Tech
- MRI Tech
- Respiratory Tech

Edited by Lori D.
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I'm big time pro-gap year. My music daughter took one and it paid off big time for her. My son was considering it this year (another music kid... man,'does it suck for these performing arts kids right now or WHAT?), but got a provisional acceptance to his dream school, so that plan went out the window. 
 

Wanted to add to the above posters who reiterate to NOT take classes during gap year. They are generally Correct in that advice. However, DD wound up at a major state U who would've accepted any gap year credits. She was so bummed because she would be able to easily double major now if only she'd have had a crystal ball to know where she'd wind up, lol!

 

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One way to knock out some potential college credits during a gap year without jeopardizing freshman status is to study for and take CLEP tests. That's what DS did, and he also self-taught a foreign language with the intention of testing out of the lower level classes.

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AmeriCorps is another possibility during a gap year -- basically the domestic version of the Peace Corps. Usually the commitments are full-time for 6-months, 9-months, 12-months. No pay, BUT they provide room & board (or a living stipend), AND you earn a tuition credit for use at a college.

Somewhat along the lines of @lmrich's DS: 
While our DS#2 did not do this as a gap year, while he was trying to figure out what he did want to do after a few years at the community college, he did a 9-month commitment with AmeriCorps and earned about a $4000 college tuition credit that he used several years later for the coursework that led to earning his national EMT certification. Also the program encouraged him to apply for food stamps to help stretch his living stipend, so he actually was able to put a bit of money in the bank, in addition to having room & board & college tuition credit. He got lots of real-life experience, he earned some specialized Wilderness certifications, and he was able to do some networking -- his partner program was a trail restoration / conservation group, which led to going into his current career of wildland fire fighter.

While AmeriCorps isn't going to be a fit for the OP's DD and her situation, I just mention this gap year option for others who may have different goals/needs... 😉 

Edited by Lori D.
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/19/2021 at 7:23 PM, readinmom said:

Thank you for all of the input.  Some very sage advice...

Her drama teacher was pretty adamant that she find a back up for the reasons mentioned.  A few of the privates she would apply to will allow her to take 1-2 classes, at least based on last conversation.  The state universities, as Lori D. pointed out, would make her get the A.A. degree before transferring (Cal State system). 

Thanks again!

 

 

I echo the advice to double check that they mean that taking classes won’t affect financial aid or scholarships. 

Ds is a senior and will take a gap year. It’s always been part of our plan so I contacted colleges last summer asking about their policies. Every single one (and they are all small private LA colleges ) said the same thing: Sure, gap year fine. If you take any college classes for credit you become a transfer student and have to change the way you apply for aid and it makes you ineligible for scholarships. All the ones he applied to will allow him to defer his scholarships, again unless he takes classes. 

So I’d just double check. There is a difference between allowing you to do it, or even accepting the credit and it not causing issues with financial aid. 

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