Gap year programs are by no means a new idea. In many countries it is the norm for students to take a structured break from formal education between high school graduation and a higher degree. These ‘gaps’ are meant to increase awareness of one’s self, the world, career opportunities and make them more desirable to employers and colleges. TOP TEN REASONS TO CONSIDER A GAP YEAR:
1. You need a break. Gap year programs allow students to step-off the education treadmill for a year to pursue other interests and tap into skills they didn’t know they had. After 12 years of structured academia, it is important for students to take time to rejuvenate before delving into the next phase.
2. Get to know yourself. Day-in and day-out we are influenced by our environment and the people in it. Have you ever stopped and wondered who you would be without all those influences? Gap years challenge students to step away from their family, friends, everyday activities and in some cases technology, to find out who they really are.
3. Discover your passion. Challenging yourself to step outside the norm can unlock hidden doors. It is a great opportunity to explore what your passions are. Knowing these things early can help you focus on a major in college (saving you money in the long run) and have a long-lasting benefit in the workforce.
4. You want to help others. Our gap year programs offer opportunities to volunteer at home and abroad allowing you to reach outside yourself and give back to the community. Not to mention those service experiences looks great on a college application!
5. You will perform better in college. Research shows that students who take gap years earn higher GPAs than students that do not. A recent study to track gap year students GPA performance was designed by Bob Clagett, former Dean of Admissions at Middleburry College in Vermont. The study pulled academic measures from new student applications that are usually accurate predictors of how a student will do in college. When Clagett took the predicted performance of students based on those measures and compared them with those students’ actual performance over four years, students who took gap years almost always over-performed academically in college, and usually to a significant degree. The most important thing? These students saw the positive effect of their gap year program endure for all four years.
6. Separate yourself from the crowd. Today, there are gap year fairs and financial aid from colleges to encourage students to pursue their passions. This interest stems from the evidence that suggests students who attend these programs bring more to their college experience by doing better socially and academically, and doing so for longer periods of time. In a time where only 53% of students are graduating a 4-year college, these programs are proving to be important.
7. You will gain life experience. Let's face it, life isn't always perfect and it can be easy to get caught up in the drama of a bad date or a missed party. Things that should be a small crisis all of a sudden can feel like the end of the world. Gap year programs allow students to travel and gain a wider breadth of experiences about the world and humanity. Many students say that they feel as though they learn more on gap years than they do in school and gain education for life.
8. Have an adventure while you are young. As you get older, it becomes harder and harder to travel for extended periods of time due to financial constraints and responsibilities at home, take the time for adventure, today!
9. You will be great at adapting. Pick a gap year program that gets you outside your comfort zone and you will be glad that you did. Rarely do young individuals learn how to adapt to new experiences and challenges, but most colleges are looking for students who can. Leaving home and gaining confidence and independence are qualities that are hard to come by but are necessary for collegiate success.
10. It is fun. Last, but not least, the obvious... While traveling abroad and leaving your friends and family may seem scary, everything will be there when you get back. This is your chance to meet new people, check things off your bucket list, make some great memories and become a better-rounded person.
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North Carolina Outward Bound School is a registered 501(c)(3). Contributions are therefore tax-deductible to the full extent provided by the law. Financial information about North Carolina Outward Bound School is available from the NC State Solicitation Licensing Branch at (919) 733-4150.