With all the uncertainty that’s facing us today, It’s hard to know which decision will be the right one. Now more than ever is the perfect time to consider alternative options outside of the linear path of education...because let's face it Fall 2020 isn’t going to be how we planned it.
So why not take a Gap Year? It’s an extremely rewarding option AND an option that you will never regret!
If you’re not convinced, here’s six reasons why...
1. Broaden Your Education
2020 is already on hold, so why not defer that freshman fall you’ve been dreaming of until it can actually happen. Taking a Gap Year broadens your education far beyond the boundaries of a classroom. It encourages ‘learning from experience’ and helps facilitate opportunities for participants to regularly reflect upon those experiences. You’ll gain incredible knowledge of historical, cultural, geographical and environmental background only accessible through travel, resulting in a personal experience that can be connected to a broader understanding of place, people and purpose.
2. Volunteer Your Time
You could be considering deferment or employment, but why not choose something more fulfilling? Gap Year semesters allow participants to really immerse themselves in a place and share an experience with local people, bridging the gap that often exists between visitor and host. Volunteer work helps build self-confidence and self-belief as students learn new skills and take on new roles. Service-learning such as; habitat restoration and species monitoring; assisting local students with English-language development; and improving school environments in poor rural communities, not only serve as aid to those communities but as a development of self.
3. Become More Culturally Awareness
Travelling can often result in experiencing a culture from your own ‘bubble’ separated from local people; although traveling looks a little different right now, there’s so much to know and explore in your own backyard! Gap Years can instead immerse participants in the local culture, through home-stays, volunteer projects, and language study. Participants can learn empathy for other cultures and build bridges of shared understanding.
4. Learn How to Travel Ethically and Sustainably
Travel and the realities of ‘life on the road’ teaches a lot of valuable lessons: how to communicate and relate to people from different cultures and even within our own; how to be happy with few possessions and a simple life; how to overcome temporary discomfort. Travel ultimately exposes students to the myriad possibilities and realities in the world and in their lives. This allows for personal growth and a clarity in students' passion and direction as they do this important learning away from the expectations of family, friends, and peers.
Students will also gain a deeper understanding of ethics and sustainability through learning respect for local customs; developing meaningful cross-cultural relationships; learning minimum-impact grassroots travel techniques and coming to understand social and ecological issues on a deeper level. Students will learn that the world is both infinitely large, full of possibility, and yet also very small, in that our personal choices affect all living things.
5. Explore the Great Outdoors
The great outdoors is a sound and stable ally in times of uncertainty. With all that is going on in the world, an escape into nature might just be what we need right now. The wilderness can be used as a medium to take participants outside their comfort zones, providing a natural challenge. Personal growth and self-confidence increases through overcoming obstacles presented during the program. Immersion in the wilderness is also an opportunity for participants to become more grounded, develop appreciation for wild places and explore local environmental issues as they relate to global patterns and problems.
6. Leadership & Personal Development
Education and employment will always be there. So while things remain up in the air, take some time out this year to focus on you because you might not get this opportunity again! During a Gap Year, students are often given leadership opportunities from facilitating reflection to coordinating the daily schedule. Gap Years can put participants out of their comfort zone physically, culturally and mentally, but also gain confidence in their abilities. Facilitation and feedback allows participants to further develop their skills. This is strengthened by creating an intentional learning community where the group gathers to make meaning of what they’ve seen and apply it to broader global themes as well as personal application.
Make the most of 2020 and consider an option that offers a rewarding end to the year that nobody saw coming.