Benefits to a gap year

AHS alum spends year in Israel

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With senior year approaching for many juniors, it’s time to be aware of the options students have after high school.

An opportunity that many students disregard is a gap year after graduating.

A gap year, typically a year between senior year and college,  is used for activities like volunteer work, traveling or interning.

Despite having this option, many high school students don’t even know what it is or consider it an option. However, in recent years, there has been significant growth in gap year enrollment.

Class of 2015 alum Jared Golub is one of the few from Annandale that decided to defer before his freshman year at University of Maryland.

Golub entered in the Habonim Dror, a Jewish youth movement which includes seminars, hiking trips and educational excursions and provides the skills as well as experience to create a dialogue for young teens. The program is nine months long, running from September to May.

Most universities allow gap years, and the process is usually quite simple. There are typically two ways to take a gap year. The first, and Golub’s choice, was upon receiving his acceptance, UMD only required him to fill out a few forms to determine whether his deferral would be accepted or not.

Another way is to just take the year and apply to colleges during your gap year.

Not only is the process easy, but there are many ways to spend your gap year ,and most of the options will offer you real world experience.

According to a study done by the American Gap Association, 88 percent of gap year graduates report that their gap year had significantly added to their employability.

According to the same report, many students  opt to spend some time abroad studying, learning foreign languages or volunteering with nonprofit groups. This is  because they desire to experience personal growth, see the world and take a break from the traditional academic track.

Not only this, but many colleges cited that students who came back to school after a gap year were more engaged and motivated. The gap year often changes their world view by giving students new experiences.

A gap year also goes beyond the classroom because it takes what you have learned and applies it to the real world.

“I’ve also learned so much in terms of knowledge, creating opinions and expressing them in ways I have not been able to prior to coming here,” Golub said.

Gap years not only teach you about the world around you, but you are bound to learn more about yourself. Whether you are volunteering, studying or just traveling, there is so much to experience outside of the books.

Golub says that the program has already changed his way of thinking in a few months.

“I’ve learned a lot and I’ve  processed so much. I’ve learned so much by interacting with different  people,” Golub said.

There are many factors in choosing a gap year as the best option for you.

For Golub, making the decision was not  hard.

“This is a program that I’ve been involved with since I was 10. It’s something I love, so making the decision wasn’t very hard,” Golub said.

A lot of times people feel discouraged to take a gap year as an option because  that has never been considered by their parents or peers, but informing yourself will open doors to not only your parents, but your peers.

“My family was a little apprehensive. They actually made me write an essay detailing why I wanted to take a gap because they didn’t believe I wanted to. After that they were very supportive,” Golub said. “Telling my friends was interesting, it’s not something a lot of people do, having someone they know take a gap year. After talking to them most people thought it was a cool thing.”

Just because your friends or family do not understand a gap year, it does not mean that it cannot be a possibility for you.

Many students are hesitant because of the pricing. On average most volunteer gap year programs, cost $15,000, and another few thousand for daily activities.

Most programs offer scholarship programs for students to be a part of these programs.

“The program itself costs less than a year of university (around $19,000). But it is really easy to get scholarships from different organizations,” Golub said. “I paid for the program with the help of scholarships and grants, as well as a little help from my parents.”

Depending on what you are doing for your gap year, there are many opportunities for these programs to be paid for by grants.

However, a gap year does not have to be done by everyone, rather more students should at least entertain the idea to make sure they are informed of their options.

“Part of me believes everyone should take a gap year, they are extremely beneficial for a lot of people. The fact remains that some people need to go straight to college after high school. However, it should at least be considered as an option,” Golub said.