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mardi 17 avril 2012

Parents nightmare of a gap year...

It might seems like a nightmare to many parents: A gap year...

Many students nowadays choose to take a ' year off ' between high school and university. To parents it's usually not the best decision their teenager can make as they are afraid their kid will never attend university anymore. But before parents should freak out about this hype called gap year, let us look at some reasons why or why not take this year off.

So really, do students who choose to take a gap year after high school only think about partying and being extremely lazy? Not quite. It's not their plan to stay degree-less forever, it is their plan to get different experiences in other countries, learn another language or even attend high school in a foreign country. In fact, in many cases it makes students even more focused and they are more sure on what they want with their life. Cause face it, if you're young and not so experienced, how should you know what you want?

If we look at most facts and figures, many students change their degree because they didn't know what to study. Or, it takes them one or even two more years extra to graduate as they can not seem to find motivation for their studies. Sending a child to university who is not ready, may even result in a real nightmare. Better prepared students, means high completion rates in university.
Even prestigious universities like Harvard and Princeton are talking about students taking a gap year before attending their studies, to be more focused, experienced and sure of their academic journey.

Gap years can exist of many different programs and destinations. So in case your parents are persuaded by you taking a gap year, it is still necessary to have a look at the possibilities and make sure you go as prepared as possible. The planning of the gap year is almost as important as the gap year itself, as you will learn how to take care of things on your own.

Money matters
Taking a gap year costs money. Language courses, high schools years, internships or volunteering programs all cost money. Of course you can save up money or earn money during a summer job before leaving the country. In most cases a financial hand from the parents is still needed. Make sure you go prepared financially, especially in case unexpected expenses occur.

Choose the dream
Gap years can be a journey of a lifetime. It can teach you who you are and what you want in life. To be able to make this happen, it is important to choose the right program. As there are so many different websites about gap years and tons of programs, it's not so easy to make that decision. Inform yourself well before you go and make sure you go for something you think fits best with you, or, is the biggest challenge..

Planning is the key
It sounds a bit cheesy, but you do need to plan this whole thing. Make sure you know the deadlines, take care of insurances, get your malaria pills and think of an option for plan B in case your choice doesn't work out. And oh yeah, don't forget the application deadlines of universities for the year after.

And while you might start planning your maybe-expensive gap year abroad, consider the following quote:

' Travel is the only thing you'll buy that makes you richer '.

I rest my case.