The gap year is gaining popularity, but it is still a fairly new concept and it can be difficult to shake your gap year fears, as it is difficult to find answers to the questions and doubts you may have. In reality, a gap year can be beneficial to your academic career, future job prospects, and personal well-being. So, let’s take a closer look at some common gap year fears, and why they are nothing to be afraid of!
1. My GPA will suffer: After taking a year off of school, it will be difficult to go back to being a full time student and I am worried that my grades will worsen.
According to an article from Business Insider, researchers at Middlebury College in Vermont find that students who take a gap year show a pattern of higher GPAs than students who don’t take one. It turns out that getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things on your gap year can make you a more engaged learner when you return to student life!
2. I won’t go back to school: My one gap year will turn into two, or even three, and I won’t want to go back to school at all.
Research done by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson of Advance, N.C. shows that 90 percent of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year. To ensure you are part of that 90 percent, be sure to structure your time well during your gap year: whether you stay close to home or travel across the globe, organize your days with meaningful activity and thoughtful reflection to keep yourself active and your mind engaged on your gap year! In other words, don’t take a year off, take a year on.
3. A gap year = A fifth year of college: Taking a gap year is just as expensive as adding an additional year of college, and I won’t be working towards my degree.
If you start thinking about your gap year well in advance, there are scholarship options available to you. Check out the Gap Year Association website for more information on the scholarships and grants that you can apply for. Many gap year organizations also offer their own, internal scholarship programs, so be sure to do some research. Some gap programs partner with universities, making it easier to start earning credit for your experiences abroad. That way you can start your first year of college with some requirements already under your belt.
4. College won’t wait: If I’m already admitted to college, my acceptance won’t be waiting for me at the end of my gap year.
Fortunately, many colleges in the United States have adopted deferral policies; this allows you to apply, get in, and put off your acceptance for a year or semester, knowing it will still be there. To learn the specific policies in place at the schools that interest you, Gap Year Association is a great tool. Dig through this list to find out more, or contact the admissions office of the school or schools. Most experts will recommend that you apply to college as a senior in high school regardless of whether or not you plan on a gap year. This way, you’ll be able to get those letters of recommendation and have access to resources like advisers or guidance counselors. It can also be tough to apply to college while abroad if you choose to spend your gap year somewhere remote, or in a completely different time zone.
5. I’ll be out of my comfort zone: I’ve never been out of my home country or away from my family before, and I’m worried I’ll be too uncomfortable on a gap year.
The answer to this fear is quite simple: embrace it! Taking a gap year is about breaking free from typical patterns and giving yourself the time and space to figure things out about yourself and the world you live in. Know that there are people to support you both abroad and back home, keep in mind that you are learning and growing from each new experience you have, and then just try to enjoy it.
Fears at rest?
Now that your doubts have been dispelled and you are free of gap year fears, the fun part begins. When you decide to take a gap year, the possibilities are endless. What’s on your bucket list? Where will you go? What will you learn? It’s time to get planning!
Scholarships and College Credit with EF Gap Year
EF Gap Year offers a number of different scholarships to students; take a look at our scholarships and fundraising page for more information. You can also earn college credits through EF’s educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.