If you feel like you need a gap year between high school and university or college, but you’re worried about losing academic momentum or falling behind in the job hunt, then you do have some options. You might consider doing course work that will relate to your planned studies once you get home. If you’re not taking these courses yourself, you might still keep your hand in the academic stream by giving instruction instead. Many types of work and study will keep you connected to your long-term educational plans.
The most common types of programs that combine travel and academics are those that involve language study. In some of them, you would teach English as a second language (TESL). This option requires prior preparation, though, where you’d need to get some kind of certification. But if you do acquire such credentials, then there are gap year agencies that make connections with countries like China, where TESL programs are in high demand. Teaching English language courses would offer some credentials that might serve you well in your future educational pursuits.
You could also take language courses, especially if your gap year travel brings you to a country with a different language than your own. For example, the AIL Language School in Madrid, Spain, offers language and cultural courses in a program aimed explicitly toward gap year students. However, the types of course work that you can do is much broader. Some agencies work with universities that grant credits for certain intense courses of a few weeks’ duration, which concentrate on one subject. Students can fit several of these into their gap year, while allowing themselves time for travel and exploration.
Harvard University has shown the way when it comes to gap year students and their academic success rates. It not only encourages applicants to take gap years, but it actually grants admission to some based on their unusual accomplishments during those breaks. These students have a higher rate of success than those at other universities, who plowed straight into further study after high school. This should be encouraging to those who really need a mental break, but don’t want to fall behind academically. You can stay on course with their educational plans, but can see something of the world at the same time.
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