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Parents & Counselors

How a Gap Year changed my son's life.

 

Parents and counselors play an important role supporting a young adult during the difficult process of deciding which step to take after high school. While a Gap Year may not be right for every student, we feel the outcomes provide fantastic benefits to most students, and we’re dedicated to providing those students and with the resources needed to make that decision.

There are legitimate questions to consider such as if a gap year participant will have a difficult time finding a job, or returning to school. We completely understand, and there’s good news.

Gap Years are increasing in popularity with both students and higher education institutions. Research shows that students who participate in a Gap Year program have higher GPAs, are more likely to graduate than their peers, experience higher job satisfaction, and perform better in their first semester at college. Harvard, who encourages incoming students to take a Gap Year, has seen a 33% jump in the number of students taking a Gap Year over the past decade, while MIT’s deferments have doubled in the past year. Furthermore, 90% of students who take a Gap Year return to school afterwards.

Gap Years Are:

Attractive to Universities

While we don’t always hear a lot about them, Gap Years are already well established in higher education and are encouraged by top tier colleges and universities – Harvard recommends all admitted students take a Gap Year. Furthermore, research shows that 90% students who take Gap Years return to college and have higher GPAs, are more likely to graduate college, and report higher job satisfaction.

So many students could benefit by taking a Gap Year. I make a point of talking about them with all of my students. - Alex Ellison, College Counselor
Enriching for Students

Students around the globe have taken Gap Years for decades as a transition period prior to college. Their experience gives them insight and enriches their educational experience. A Gap Year can set students apart from their peers as they re-enter the classroom revived, motivated and more independent than ever before. As graduation rates support, gap years are a sure way to increase your chance for success at the collegiate level.

Attractive to Employers

UnCollege’s Gap Year Program is designed both to supplement and enrich the college experience or to stand as an alternative to college. Companies like Google are moving away from requiring degrees, focusing instead on applicant’s experience and skills. Gap Year Fellows participate in internships which provide them with valuable work experience, help them develop skills, and give them insight into their own career goals. We’ve even had a few Fellows start their own companies!After the year-long Gap Year Program, Fellows are far more appealing to employers than their recently graduated counterparts because they have a portfolio of experience and real world skills to bring to a job.

Taking a Gap Year is an exciting, challenging, and enlightening experience. Based on our experience with Fellows we feel strongly that students of the Gap Year program can only thrive with the support of their parents and community. UnCollege partners with parents, students, and counselors to help provide the resources needed to make an informed decision about taking a Gap Year and to customize the Program to fit the goals of each student.

Meet A Fellow:

Gap Year Fellows come from all walks of life. They each have unique goals, and have had different experiences and outcomes in the Program. This is Tim:

 

Tim is a 22-year-old with a diverse background. His mother helped him develop a keen eye for design and a touch of creativity, while his father provided him with problem solving skills through careful analysis. He built his first computer at age of 13 and had hiked and canoed over 500 miles by 15. After achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and graduating high school, he enrolled in a large state university. After two semesters he found himself disgruntled with the institutional aspects of such a large school that had little regard for individual guidance. He dropped out and began to search for a passion, pursuing many different fields in the process, from physical fitness to internet marketing. He enrolled in the Gap Year program as an exploratory phase to collaborate with other bright minds and learn about himself in the process.

During the Program Tim interned for 3 months at H-Farm – an Italian startup Incubator in Venice. There he worked on marketing and community engagement, with H-farm’s host of early stage companies. Tim now works full-time as a marketing coordinator for a Palo Alto-based venture-backed photography startup.

Who might be right for a Gap Year?

  • Students exploring career options
  • Students interested in alternatives to a four-year degree
  • Students craving adventure and life experience
  • Students attending college, but who want time off to clarify their goals
  • Students motivated to succeed without college

Need to talk to a fellow parent? 

To learn about UnCollege Gap Year from a former participant's mother or father, visit our Parent Council page.
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