"These are the things that really get an 18-year-old ready for life."
This first time I heard the words “Gap Year” was during a college visit with my daughter during her junior year of HS. At one of the sessions they asked for questions and my daughter inquired about Gap Years. I remember thinking, “What’s a Gap Year, and why is my daughter asking about it?” When I went to college back in the 80s, you didn’t take a year off between HS and college. You just kept plowing straight through to the finish line, graduating college “on time” clearly things had changed. So I had to start reading up on Gap Years to figure out if this would be a good thing or not and what I found is that the evidence is pretty overwhelming that Gap Years can be very productive and worthwhile periods of time and colleges love students who take them!
My daughter decided to create her own Gap Year plan rather than use an “off the shelf” program being offered by many companies. I must admit that I was bit worried about this idea at first. No supervision, No one to turn to in the event of problem, etc, etc. In my case I was not really worried about mischief that she might get in to but rather her getting caught up in events beyond her control and who would help her in such a situation.
I felt better when I saw my daughter’s itinerary was mostly places (domestic and international) where communications were good and either I could get to her if necessary, or a friend, or friend of friend, in country that could help in emergency situations. I also contracted with a travel insurance company that could provide local assistance and evacuation if necessary.
I really can’t speak highly enough about the wonderful real world experiences my daughter had during this year and how they will benefit her moving forward in life. Firstly, working all summer before her gap year, to pay for the gap year. It doesn’t get more real world than that! Researching and booking her travel and lodging. Trouble-shooting on the fly. Meeting all sorts of people from all over the world. Managing her time, making planes trains and buses, etc. These are not the glamorous gap year “takeaways”- although she has the pictures to prove she had those moments as well - but these are the things that really get an 18 year old ready for life .
Dave C, father of Caroline C