What is a gap year?
Gap years have long been accepted in Europe as the next step after high school. Rather than students graduating high school and rushing off for further classroom education at a university, they embark on a year-long journey of self-discovery, experiential learning, and, in many cases, traveling. The concept of a gap year is now being universally seen across the globe with more and more students from the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries joining the ranks.
Though a gap year is a year off from the standard educational ladder, it is not a year off from education in itself. A gap year is meant to provide students with the opportunity to grow and mature as individuals, explore areas of opportunity, and enter the collegiate world with a better understanding of themselves, the world, and their future.
Why take a gap year?
There are a multitude of reasons that students decide to take a gap year rather than immediately pursue further formalized education. Most simply stated, the majority of reasons trace back to students just not being ready to continue their studies at that moment, much like one of our most recent gap year students, Gabriella.
Why Gabriella chose a gap year… “I was not quite ready to go to college and I knew that I wanted to do something else other than work for the year.”
Outside of a student’s personal drive for deciding on a gap year, it is important to note that more and more educational institutes are encouraging students to pursue this avenue. The experiences, knowledge, and understanding that are gained through a gap year offer amazing benefits to students.
After a gap year, many students will tell you they:
- Have a clearer vision of what they want to do and/or study.
- Are more motivated to continue their studies.
- Have a better understanding of themselves, and even the world
- Are all around just more ready for university than they were right out of high school.
What gap year options are out there?
An endless list of Gap Year opportunities exists. You can do pretty much everything and anything!
…immerse yourself in a new culture.
…learn a new language.
…sail around the world.
…handcraft a boat.
…trek the Andes.
…study art in Rome.
…intern in special education.
And, the list goes on. Whatever your interests are, there is something out there for you.
At Maximo Nivel, we specialize in cultural and language immersion with gap year options including our:
- International Volunteer Program
- International Internship Program
- Native Spanish Program
- TEFL/TESOL Certification Program
- Adventure & Culture Program
No program is the same and every student is encouraged to work with us to build the right program for them as an individual. Whether you go to Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, all of our programs are available and you are able to combine any number of them to build your gap year.
What did Gabriella do for her program… she spent 28 weeks in Costa Rica volunteering in childcare, teaching English, and sea turtle conservation; studying Spanish; and getting certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). She nearly did it all!
What to consider when looking at a gap year program?
With all the gap year programs available, it is hard to know where to begin or even what to look for. Before you start looking at all of the options available to you, it is important to make a list of key qualities and questions that are important to you. This will help you focus the time and energy you spend looking for a program.
If you are uncertain and are just looking at every opportunity out there, here is a simple list of first-round questions to get you the basic information you need before making a decision:
- Where is the program?
- How long is the program?
- What does the program include?
- What is the cost of the program?
- Are there additional expenses outside of the program fees?
- Is it a group program or an individualized program?
- Is it an independent program or are you always guided?
- What kind of program support do you receive before, during, and after?
You may find that your number one priority is to be completely independent during your program, that you have free time to manage yourself and not always a scheduled activity. Or you may find that only a certain area of the world interests you, maybe that’s Asia or Latin America. By beginning with answering all of these questions and then determining the important key factors for you, you will be able to quickly find your top programs of interest.
The deciding factors for Gabriella—cost and flexibility… “Honestly, it was the cheapest program I found with the flexibility that Maximo offers.”