Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Gap Year Opportunities

by Anne Lodge

Recently, the guidance counselors spent time with the juniors to kick off the conversation about the future planning process. The focus of our sessions was on college planning and sharing information about college search tools (what the students are looking for) and the admission process (what colleges are looking for in them). While college was the main focus of our group sessions, we also introduced other post-secondary options for students to consider. One of those areas has been getting more press in recent months thanks, in part, to Malia Obama: gap year programs.

A gap year, or bridge year, is exactly what it’s name implies: a break between periods of academic study, typically between high school and higher education. What students can do with their gap year, however, is often much more of a rewarding journey of growth than an actual break. There are a plethora of gap year programs out there where students have the opportunity to travel, volunteer, get work experience, or study an area of passion. While some might question the benefit of deferring education for a period of time, worrying that a student might lose their academic momentum and not return to the traditional classroom setting, a good amount of anecdotal evidence indicates that gap years shape lives in very positive ways. One recent article in the New York Times speaks specifically to this data. Additionally, there is emerging data that 90% who took a gap year returned to college within one year (

If you or your child is wondering if a gap year program might be the right fit for after graduation, we encourage you to have a conversation with your guidance counselor. We are more than happy to help you explore some options and talk about opportunities. There are also great websites and some popular programs that might give you some additional information and some upcoming local gap year fairs where you can meet with different program representatives to learn more. Medfield’s Guidance webpage also links to numerous resources and the American Gap Year website has a lot of wonderful data and information.

Upcoming Gap Year Fairs:
January 17, 6-9 pm, Brookline High School
January 21, 1-4 pm, Noble and Greenough School
January 22, 12-3 pm, Phillips Andover Academy

Popular Programs & Helpful Websites:

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