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Taking a Gap Year After High School

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Nicole Adams

Embarking on a gap year program after high school offers incomparable experiences for students seeking a break from the traditional educational trajectory. Whether you’re feeling burnt out after graduation or simply want to see more of the world before starting college, a post-high school gap year is a great opportunity to gain a multicultural perspective, learn new skills, and uncover hidden passions. 

Benefits of Gap Year Programs After High School 

After four years of high school, it’s common to experience academic burnout. A post-graduation gap year can help alleviate the stress of traditional schooling, while still providing you with opportunities to gain new skills and immerse yourself in experiences that spur personal development and growth. Especially if you’re unsure where to begin your college or university journey, hitting academic pause and taking time to recover and explore can ensure you’re focused and refreshed so you get the most out of your post-secondary education. 

The time between graduating high school and setting foot on a college campus is a popular time to do a gap year. This makes sense if you’re unsure about what program of study to pursue, and want to utilize the time to hone your skills and interests to ensure you choose the right path. It’s also good timing if you’re burnt out and need a breather before immediately jumping back into academic stress and pressure. After high school graduation, classmates and friends usually go in different directions, so taking a gap year is less likely to disrupt academic flow, routines, and friendships versus taking time off amidst your college semesters. 

Post-secondary education is very different from high school and often involves moving away from the comforts and familiarity of home, family, and friends. While some may easily acclimate, others may find after their initial year at college or university that they need a break. Maybe they’re not convinced they made the correct choice initially, or maybe they need the breather mid-college, but whatever the reason, some do their gap year after they’ve already begun college. The biggest consideration here is being able to pick back up where you left off and ensuring applicable financial aid and scholarships aren’t negatively impacted.

Woman sewing with a man outside

Transitioning to College or University After a Gap Year

Many colleges and universities are encouraging students to take a gap year, and are beginning to recognize that taking one before college can help set students up for better success by developing practical and interpersonal skills, demonstrating a commitment to service and global engagement, or taking a break to focus on their health. If the college you’re interested in doesn’t explicitly outline their stance on a gap year, reach out to the admissions department and ask for clarification. 

Taking a gap year before college or university won’t negatively affect your admission chances if you use your time and experience wisely. There are two main ways to approach a gap year: deferring college admission and delaying your application. Deferring simply means that you applied to and have been accepted to the school, but you decide to defer or postpone attendance for a year. Delaying means that you are delaying the application process for the duration of your gap year, and will apply to college during your gap time. 

The approach you choose will also depend on the university you choose. Some colleges only allow deferrals for accredited gap year programs while others may require you to take additional action during or after the application process. If you plan to apply, then postpone your start date after acceptance, make sure you understand the deferral policy of each school you apply to. If you delay or wait to apply until after you’re out of high school, you’ll need to stay on top of deadlines to make sure you can enroll seamlessly after your gap experience.

Where There Be Dragons programs are rooted in authentic travel and cultural immersion where students gain a unique understanding of the world. Taking a semester or year of experiential learning is beneficial for personal, educational, and professional reasons. Students can expect exposure to local religious and spiritual traditions, a broadened understanding of global sustainability and social justice, immersive language learning, and so much more. We’d love to see you on a trip! Give us a call at 800.982.9203 or contact us to learn more.  

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