View Full Version : Gap Year?

05-04-2016, 01:50 PM
Thank you, Malia Obama. I have always thought a gap year would be a great thing for a student who's maybe not 100% ready for the responsibilities of college. You know the kid: a good but not self-motivated student, maybe a bit overinfluenced by peers (in the worst way), maybe doesn't have a fully formed self-identity yet. Volunteering or traveling and finding one's way/making one's own decisions might be a good option for that kind of kid...plus, of course, it doesn't need to be a full year!

NYTimes article (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/travel/how-to-plan-a-gap-year.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Ftr avel&action=click&contentCollection=travel&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0)

I often think about what a big transition it is for homeschooled students to leave home and go to a college dorm. I mean, at least b&m schooled high schoolers go somewhere every day and are forced to fraternize with other students whether they want to or not.

Homeschooling Librarian
05-04-2016, 02:22 PM
I LOVE the idea of a gap year for all kids! Especially if they don't really know what they want to do, they should go out into the world and try some things. Get a job! Volunteer! Intern if you can swing it! Try an apprenticeship!

I'm one of those former "smart kids" who was one of the first in the family to get a BA...and you know, there was a lot of floundering. I don't know if I would have avoided all of the floundering, but I think it would have helped to develop some certainty about my skills and interests BEFORE college.

05-04-2016, 02:32 PM
I think my children may benefit from a gap year because they are a bit young for their grade.
I didn't push them ahead; I simply enrolled them when they hit the proper age. I had no idea so many people held back. When I was young, the cut-off was December 31st so there were a lot of us attending college at 17, it wasn't a problem. But times have changed - at least in our area. At the two schools my children attended, they were the only students who would be graduating at 17.

Of course, being HS'ers we can say they are in a grade lower, but my children don't want to. They consider themselves 6th graders. However, I think they would like a gap year if it included travel or some other interest.

05-04-2016, 02:36 PM
I'm planing and saving for a gap year for my son. I think he'd really enjoy seeing the world before going back to school.

05-04-2016, 02:39 PM
I agree it depends on the kid. For those not quite sure what they want to do or want to explore careers during that year (interning, job shadowing, etc), I think it's a great idea.

My two, though, are pretty adamant on what they want to do and are/were chomping at the bit to go to college.

FWP, the transition for homeschooled kids can be a big one, depending on how they spent their school years. I think with part time jobs and dual credit classes, my kiddos had enough fraternizing with others to be used to it. That doesn't mean there's no anxiety--check out my dd's blog post from this week. Why I Blog About College (https://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/why-i-blog-about-college/)

05-04-2016, 02:43 PM
I agree it depends on the kid. For those not quite sure what they want to do or want to explore careers during that year (interning, job shadowing, etc), I think it's a great idea.

This is a good point.
I s/h qualified my response as "Thinking about it now, while they are 11, I think my children will benefit from a gap year." A lot can happen in six years and they may be focused, determined, and know exactly what they want to do at age 17!

05-04-2016, 02:48 PM
Yeah I agree dbsam it is hard to foresee!! (sheesh think about where they were 6 years ago!) My college, lucky for me, had a freshman year program that everyone took (some classes were different) and it did really help those kids on the cusp of dropping out or having problems finding a major. (But then again, most top-ranking schools do this: they fight like hell to keep you there if you get in. I know not all colleges work this way, thinking about my high school peers who flamed out after a semester or two, never to return; wonder if such a universal program could've helped them study/understand/find the strength to continue?)

So yeah I agree a gap year depends on the kid and his/her level of motivation. Thanks for linking your daughter's thoughts, Carol! Good to have word from someone in the trenches :)

05-04-2016, 03:03 PM
Still thinking through gap year issues. We're a few years away from this so it's hard to say what we'll be looking at by then. We'll follow dd's lead.

Carol, I'm bookmarking your dd's blog for my kiddo. Although she'll likely have a different kind of college experience I think it'll be good for her to look at how other girls navigate.

05-04-2016, 04:08 PM
I'm kind of in the mindset, that a gap year would benefit a PS kid more. Though a gap year could be fun, and beneficial to any teenager.

Of course the big social change, going into college, is a lot to take in for any kid. But I'm seeing now, with my oldest, that because we homeschool in such a way that allows him the time to follow what he really enjoys....he's got a pretty good idea of the path that interests him. A gap year would be just a year to mess around. I have the suspicion that he will be eager to get started with college instead.

I think that is a harder thing for a PS kid to find time for.....following interests and starting to specialize. They get to "the end" and are quite used to being told what to do, and how to do it....and being used to such hand holding and sheparding...well, that causes the floundering later on, IMO.

05-04-2016, 04:19 PM
I'm kind of in the mindset, that a gap year would benefit a PS kid more. ...I think that is a harder thing for a PS kid to find time for.....following interests and starting to specialize. They get to "the end" and are quite used to being told what to do, and how to do it....and being used to such hand holding and sheparding...well, that causes the floundering later on, IMO.

Very good point, ML. Yeah. Hmm. I think the idea is a good one for such a micromanaged kid to you know cut the cord completely with a gap year. (Like that happens with the helicopter type of parent though?) And yeah my homeschooled kid, albeit but a 6th grader, still has her classes selected and managed by a parent (with her input but still not 100% her choice). I still look to Carol for guidance here, that her kids stepped up and made more choices with age, and Carol just became their facilitator/sounding board. Sounds like your son, ML, has begun to self-select and focus and understand the path, yay!

05-04-2016, 04:55 PM
Y'all have such great ideas and make really good points. I think lots of students would benefit from a "gap year." Or three.

But, ok, maybe this is me being in a ranty mood today (it's been a doozie of a couple of weeks) - when did it get called a "gap year" when somebody decided not to go to college right away? I mean - I started CC as a high-school aged person, then took almost 2 years off. Was better for it. Worked. Got some medic training/experience. But no one called it a "gap year." They called it - "your life is your own but if you are not in college you're going to have to figure out how to pay all your own bills. Good luck. There's always room for you at my house if you need it." They were supportive of my plans, and most of the things I actually did. They were just not interested in keeping their kids as "kids" past 18. Or in supporting them financially except for help with college costs.

So I think it's awesome to encourage people to take some time past high school before diving into the time/expense of college. But I wonder - when does it stop being a plan made with the 'student.' And when is it just said young adult living their life? Like, will you financially support your young adult's gap year? If you do, will you influence the choices made - subtly or directly? Just wondering.

05-04-2016, 05:30 PM
I'm going to fund as much as I can but we're going to match $1 for $1 as much as we can. FSU (http://admissions.fsu.edu/freshman/gapyear/) has gap year scholarships up to $5,000 per gap year. There's always the option of americorp or peacecorp. My money has to go to room/board.

05-04-2016, 05:46 PM
Ummm...any gap year taken by a kid in my house will have to be fully funded by himself! Not because I can't fund it, but why would I?

I'm with you Pdpele, it's called adulthood. Pay your own damn bills, and if you need to continue to live here...you will have a job and contribute to the household. IMO, to do otherwise is to hobble a kid and keep them needy.

05-04-2016, 05:49 PM
I think a gap year activity would be good for about anyone. Before ending high school, one is considered too young to do something independent. Then there is college, then youre supposed to get a job (hubby tells me that tech companies now hire their recruits fall of their senior year of college)... and theres never a good place for a break then.

18 is when i was pretty idealistic - and had the energy to do something about it. Judgement isnt all there yet, but what better time is there to join SeaSHepherd, Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace, Doctors without Borders, etc?
Errr, but thats not imagining having a kid on an extended vacation to Europe, or mooching off me from his room in the basement.

05-04-2016, 06:10 PM
I view the gap year as the 5th year of high-school. That's why I'd pay half. I don't plan to have him actually live with me during the gap year. Now, if he has to move back in after college for a short time then fine. In no way do I plan on him living with me much after high school graduation.

05-04-2016, 06:30 PM
There is no such thing as a 5th year of high-school. Just sayin'

05-04-2016, 06:52 PM
I do think a kid on gap year should be paying at least some (or all) of his or her own way. Actually, I'm of the opinion kids should get some part-time work, if possible, as soon as they are able. It teaches responsibility and resourcefulness, and if they're lucky, transferable skills.

Sort of off topic, but my kids started earning money around 11 or so doing yardwork for neighbors--nothing strenuous, just raking sort of stuff. Then they both worked at a cafe from age 15 until leaving for college (ds also has another concurrent job programming). Then they are/will work 10-15 hours/per week in college, if possible. DH and I both worked in college and he had a semester or two when he didn't work. His grades were always better the semesters he worked, since he was forced to schedule his time better. These jobs were all instigated or sought out by my kids, not by dh or me. This was also along with academic teams and 4-H...

And we've never paid for grades; I think that removes the intrinsic motivation I was hoping to instill through homeschooling--love of learning and all that.

OK, I'll now step off of my soap box.

05-04-2016, 06:53 PM
I can imagine keeping my boys stuff for him while he is off gapping. Or having him live at home if he colleges near enough.

I think the distinction is that for gap year one is expected to be a bit independent, not still dependent, like a high schooler. Just my opinion though, and my oldest is a mere 10 years old.

Ive a friend in London who says most English now cant afford to live on their own. Who knows if that sort of situation is going to happen here as well. (He has rattled off median dwelling prices and income statistics, along with how much loans one qualifies for (which is different than in USA).)

05-04-2016, 07:53 PM
I graduated at 17 and was ready to get the hell out of the house. I cannot imagine choosing to take a gap year. In my senior year I did an internship for part of my second semester from 8-3 M-F at an art gallery, had a 3-day-a-week night job bussing and dishwashing, and took art classes downtown Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. If I'd taken a gap I basically would have just continued on doing the same thing - but probably with a paying day job. It would have been all about making money to move out and smoking weed with my group of older work friends who did not attend college. (Because all of my other friends moved away.) I wouldn't have stayed at home for another year. I probably would have moved in with my boyfriend, tbh. Yuck. Glad it didn't go that way.

So I'll go ahead and be the devil's advocate here. Sure, rah rah gap year for European kids. Where it seems to be a cultural norm to take a year off. But as for American kids? Their similar aged peers are leaving for college, socializing with college students, and having a college experience. Meanwhile the gap kid is left at home, trapped between childhood and adulthood. "Do I have a curfew still? Can I bring my (multiple, experimental) sexual partners home? Will I have to introduce them all to my parents? My same aged peers have left, and I'm surrounded by older adults or kids who won't be attending college. My friends have gone off to learn and party, and I'm stuck here working and living with my parents and siblings still."

If you have money to travel or explore, great! But I imagine a lot of kids are going to be ready to get out of the house. And if they're not transitioning to a college dorm, they might end up transitioning to a buddy's couch - and staying there forever.

05-04-2016, 08:09 PM
I don't see the gap year as being with your parents. I see it more as a time to travel, volunteer, meet people, see what you like. You only get 4 years in college taking 16-18 cr. a semester. Yeah you have the parties on the week-ends but you're stuck in one place having to get a 3.0 gpa or risk academic probation, loss of scholarships, and all manor of other negative stuff. A break is a good thing.

05-04-2016, 08:40 PM
Well it may or may not be a good thing. In my personal experience it would not have been good. At that age I probably would have been very resistant, especially if it was my parents' idea to do a gap year. With money being tight, I would not have been able to travel and volunteer - my family was only going to be able support me for four years (I know this because my first choice college was a five year program) and could not have afforded to pay for me to hang out at home, let alone travel for a year. As I said on a previous thread, I spent a big chunk of my savings doing a semester abroad in college. That money would not have been there if I had to pay living expenses for an entire year before college.

05-04-2016, 11:58 PM
I'm actually thinking of encouraging my kid to take 2 years off when he graduates (years from now). I want him to work one year at the factory his dad does, put that all up in an IRA, (and let it sit for 50 years). 1, it will give him an awesome retirement fund just from that amount gathering interest over 50 years. 2) it'll let him know if blue collar or white collar (or something in between) is for him. And then I would love for him to spend a year traveling the world and seeing what's out there. i do NOT want him going directly from school to college even if he knows exactly what he wants to do.

05-05-2016, 12:14 AM
I know my older two won't be taking a gap year. My oldest is dual
Enrolled in CC already.

My 2nd is following the same path, he was already accepted at the same CC for next year.

They will graduate from High school with their AA's.

Number 3 is tricky, we are enrolling him in the local PPP for high school, because he wants a High School diploma. (We will see how this works.) he built his own forge this year and is pursuing blacksmithing. Who knows where he will end up.....

05-05-2016, 12:38 AM
I think I am the token parent this year of a public traditional school senior and I can tell you that he has absolutely no interest whatsoever in taking a gap year. He is ready to move on and study, finally, the things that are interesting to him. Traditional high school has pretty set classes and with the exception of his dual enrollment and electives, everyone takes the same classes. He loved being on the college campuses of the school that he finally chose, and sitting on on their economics class and their intro to analysis (math) lecture. Things that went beyond high school. He was disappointed to learn that he would not have a strong enough math background in his second semester to take the special topics class on statistically analyzing the presidential election. How cool is that!

Someone upthread said that they thought that gap years were more for PS kids who are used to being told what to do and need a break. But from what I am seeing from the PS and private school families I know, it is not like that at all. Kids want to move on and study the things they have been waiting to study. My own son wants to take a variety of classes so he can figure out what he likes best. He has only had a small taste of everything. College is freedom for many traditional school kids, a chance to finally learn what they want.

Many kids who do a traditional "gap year" have already applied and been accepted to a specific college. This is true of Obama's kid. She has accepted her place at Harvard. But then the student asks permission to defer college for a year, and colleges will typically grant that request as long as the student agrees not to apply elsewhere. Those who have taken a gap year, typically do not hang out, they set up activities such as volunteer work at home or abroad, if they can afford it maybe travel, maybe work and save money for the following year. But those who I know that are doing gap years, are already accepted to college and are taking time to do one last interesting thing. One of the kids from a parent forum I frequent has been accepted to Columbia but is taking a gap year in the country where her parents are from to learn the language. She applied and was accepted to a specific gap year program just for study abroad.

From what I have read, colleges strongly encourage students to take gap years, and are almost always willing to defer admission without penalty.

As for Obama's kid. It will be much easier being at Harvard after the election cycle is done and she is no longer the president's kid. Then she can finally just be herself.

05-05-2016, 09:55 AM
As for Obama's kid. It will be much easier being at Harvard after the election cycle is done and she is no longer the president's kid. Then she can finally just be herself.

Those were my thoughts as well.

05-05-2016, 10:01 AM
I graduated at 17 and was ready to get the hell out of the house.

Same here. Different reasons. I am one of 8 kids, smack right in the middle (#5). [Think Brady Bunch...girls' room was furnished with bunk beds and a twin bed...shared one closet.] While I love (or at least tolerate) the members of my family, I was sooooo ready to go to college.

05-05-2016, 12:41 PM
"Someone upthread said that they thought that gap years were more for PS kids who are used to being told what to do and need a break."

Lknomad, that was me that said that, but not that they need a break, just the person pushing (school or parent) is suddenly not there. And it takes a while to find their own motivation. But what I meant was statistically speaking. As a percentage. I think it's more likely that a larger percentage of PS kids are not self starters. BUT, I could be wrong when you look at the fact that we (SHS's) are outnumbered by religious hsers that are also used to being told what to do??? Just a theory. You're kid has a different parent than the typical PSed kid. KWIM?

And you also bring up a good point....the difference between deferment and a gap year. I see those as two different things. But I could be alone. To me, gap year is, "I'm not sure what I want to do so I'll wander, explore and chill out." Deferment, like you said, is more like, "I have a year before I go to school 'A'. So in the meantime I plan to volunteer/work/travel."

IMO, there is a difference. Still, either way, in my house, the financial responsibility is on the kid. Think of it as character building....:)

05-05-2016, 12:47 PM
Oh. See, I meant "gap year" like Malia Obama's taking it: she has been accepted by a college, she requests a deferment for a particular reason. I guess I never saw it as a suck-off-your-parents-another-year-til-the-kid-gets-her/his-sh*t-together as many of you guys seem to be considering it :D It's more like, I have this plan to go to X college, but...maybe now I can grow up a bit by volunteering somewhere interesting, getting to know myself a bit more, so I can best go to college with a fresh brain.

05-05-2016, 12:57 PM
So maybe it is a valid option to do, or to not do, and it depends on the kid?

A year-long summer vacation seems like a waste of a year to me. At an age where they should be pushing the boundaries of independence. If they want to be volunteering, they should be doing it with something that pays their room and board. Taking a year to walk dogs at the humane society isnt exactly going to grow them to independence or be an experience that broadens their horizons.

Mormons ship their kids overseas at this age, not allowed contact with their parents for a time. I think its for that same self-reliance / growing that is the intent behind a traditional *gap year*.

They can get a job in high school where they can show that they are reliable and conscientious. Then for gap year go find some position part of an expedition digging up dinosaur bones or measuring antarctic weather or whatever floats their boat before they go to college and commit to a career for the rest of their life. :p

Im open to the idea, for my boys. But Im not going to try setting their path that far in advance.

05-05-2016, 05:51 PM
I think kids who do not have a very specific goal or is not very driven, taking a break is important. Get a job, go volunteer, go do something else. Anything else. Then come back to school when you are ready, if ever.

Even students who seem driven, appear to get lost in college. College is not high school and for those who were the big fish, swimming with other big fish becomes a problem. Especially for those from small, rural schools.

I really think more kids need to get out in the world. Work, do some social service. Then come back and go to school. I wish we had some tradition towards service (not military) for a year or two before college.

05-05-2016, 08:22 PM
Are there a lot of options for kids who want to get out there and make a difference? And I mean really get out and have r/b paid for? I remember my friend's older brother going on a mission for the Mormons, but she didn't or couldn't or something. Was it only guys, maybe? Can't remember. And another guy I dated for a time was trying to find a cause that would take him, but the big guys - Greenpeace, I remember talking about - only took college graduates.

If there's a natural disaster, I guess you could go with the Red Cross to help the clean up, but not at 17. You can't really do anything at 17 except go to college, can you? Lol. I guess most graduates are 18 anyway. I remember having my college roommate buy me cigarettes for three months until I turned 18.

I'm sure deferring is the preferable option, especially for parents, because there's an end to the year long summer break - which is what it is, AM you're right. But it would really have to be a case by case basis. I think a lot of kids would lose momentum.

I'm not sure it's fair to be comparing the general pop to Obama either. She has a few more options. Plenty of money. And is heading to an Ivy, after all. Ya know, besides being the president's daughter. Taking a year between getting an CC AA in hs and completing a BA at CC or state school is pretty different. (Using this as an example because it's been brought up and seems to be the path many people are choosing - not saying it's better or worse than another plan.)

05-05-2016, 08:37 PM
Well I took my gap year AFTER college and worked on a cruise ship. Best experience ever. The degree helped land the job, but with a degree in psychology I had no idea what to do with myself. After that I taught English overseas. College degree needed! Sometimes you need a walkabout but timing can vary.

05-05-2016, 08:52 PM
Are there opportunities for kids? I dont know, I didnt spend too long checking. Greenpeace you have to sign up to know whats out there for volunteering. Sea Shepherd (we are on their email list) gives r/b, and geocorps (described from a site, as like jobcorps for budding paleontologists) has a list of current short term positions available.
Geological Society of America - GeoCorps America (http://rock.geosociety.org/g_corps/index.htm)
Crewing at Sea - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (http://www.seashepherd.org/get-involved/crewing-at-sea.html)

And it seems internships over the summers between college years is common...

I think itd be a good time to explore those options, before youre lock-stepped into college and life and career.

I dont know that much about mormons, but I guess I can say Ive never seen girls out missioning. The men though I guess go out to become gods on their own planet after they die, perhaps theyre expected to know more about how worlds operate. :p

05-05-2016, 10:17 PM
I think part of the problem is that there are not many options besides the military. There is Americorps that does have programs for people without degrees, but those are getting fewer too as funding is getting cut.

I guess I am going off on a tangent, but I really think more of an effort needs to be placed on service between high school and college. I have had students start college wanting to be a teacher, get to their 3rd or 4th year, when the are doing their student teaching and realize that teaching is not the job for them. Same happens with nursing. And other fields.

If these students had an opportunity to work as a teacher's aide or in a position that could have had on the job training at a hospital, they would have seen what was required and knew that when they went to college what they didn't want to do. I will see students who finish the degree because they are almost there, instead of changing majors for something else that they want to do.

Too much money, time and emotion is in college. Nothing wrong with delaying it.

05-05-2016, 11:37 PM
Yes, that would be awesome, but no one is going to pay a no-experience, grown child that can only commit to a position for a year. It costs too much to train people to hire them for such a short term. Entry level jobs are going to grads or career changers with some level of professional experience.

The best a teaching candidate could do would be to work for minimum wage at a daycare. Sure fire way to drive them away! In FL you need a license to do prek, so that leaves you with three and under, but those jobs are usually taken by moms with kids in the daycare.

Here (the Heaven's waiting room of the state), you can go from zero to a full time job in nursing in two years flat. Without training there's nothing. Why, if you want to be a nurse after all, would you waste a year volunteering and working nights when you could be half way through a program?

It would be great. But there just aren't temporary, entry level positions in these type of professional fields.

05-06-2016, 09:51 AM
I agree that the temporary, entry level jobs are not available. And that is the problem.

I worked lots of volunteer jobs in high school, hospital, library and others. I can tell you that the 3 years I spent as a volunteer at the hospital confirmed that there was no way, no how I was going to be a nurse or anything that involved someone else's bodily fluids. (And then I become a mom, so figure that.)

After volunteering at the library, I knew that I loved working around books.

These weren't even full time, this was volunteer experiences that were a few hours a month, while I was going to high school and working a job.

I could have used some time to mature before going to college. I was all over the place and in some ways I still am, but I learned how to focus enough to finish school. But there were issues with health insurance and financial support that made these things difficult. And I finally just said forget it and I went and found a job eventually.

I really think that we need to have government programs set-up for this. Bring back ROP to all schools, encourage alternative trainings, bring back WPA jobs, expand conservation corps jobs, and other similar. The government can even support students to do volunteer work. Yes, that becomes paid work, but I really think that volunteer work becomes difficult for many low-income students who might want to, but can't afford it. It is a class issue. Frequently students need to do an internship to get a job, need money to to live. Can't do internship, can't get into a particular field, can't figure out if they like that field, and the cycle goes on.

One college I worked had a fund that would help pay students to work at a non-profit. The organization had to put up a little money as good faith and the rest came from the fund. They were able to sponsor many students to get some training that they otherwise would not have gotten because they could not afford to work for free.

And yes, I am one of those free-spending, lefties, that supports taxation of the wealthy to fund programs like this. :D

05-06-2016, 12:24 PM
Awww you guys are bursting my idealistic, optimistic bubble!

Next youre gonna tell me that I dont need a real life coterie of non-xtian homeschoolers.