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Gap year is a time for growth and exploration before college

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Not every student goes directly from high school to college. Some individuals spend anywhere from a few months to a full year away from the classroom to take part in an experience known as a gap year. However, this time off should not be considered an extended vacation but rather an opportunity to enhance your college experience.

If you are thinking about taking a gap year before you begin college, here are a few things to consider before you make your final decision:

Should you take time off?

Some students love everything about academia, while others prefer hands-on learning experiences. If you fall into the latter category, you might benefit from time away from tests and homework. Instead, you can use your gap year to gain real-life experience as a member of the workforce or to hone your skills in a specific area. This is also a great time to discover your true passions or to make money you can put toward your education. If your finances allow, you can travel abroad or join a volunteer program.

Ask yourself tough questions

A gap year is not for everybody. You may have big ideas about how you will spend your time, but realize one month in that you need the type of structure school can offer. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) recommends asking yourself the following questions: What do I want to learn? How much structure do I want or need? Where in the world do I want to be? What kinds of things do I want to do? What will I do when things get very difficult? What is my emergency plan?

NACAC also suggests you consider your gap year budget. Do you have enough money to travel to another country or enroll in a special program? Are your parents willing to help you pay for your experience? Asking yourself these questions while you are still in high school will help you choose between time off and college.

Go ahead with the college admissions process

Even if you plan to take time off, you should still conduct your college search, including applying to a reasonable number of colleges. That way, if you change your mind and decide not to take a gap year, you can still go to college.

Ultimately, a gap year can provide you with an experience that can lead to personal, professional and academic development. According to the USA Gap Year Fairs Web site, a number of colleges and universities have come to recognize the importance of taking time off before enrolling in college full-time. Students receiving acceptance letters from these schools are even encouraged to defer enrollment so they can take advantage of gap year opportunities.ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800800394-ADNFCR - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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