College Prep 101: Taking a Gap Year

On Tuesday, January 9, the ESJ Parents’ Association presented their second College Prep 101 program. Taking a Gap Year program panelists included: Chizu Shiono of Dynamy Internship Year, a gap year program for students who want to participate in an array of real-world activities that increase self-awareness and self-reliance; James Ellout from City Year, which is a member of AmeriCorps and an education nonprofit organization that partners with public schools in 28 high-need communities across the U.S. and UK and South Africa. City Year teams provide student, classroom, and whole school support. Will Taylor ’16 who, upon graduation, participated in a year-long program called the Congess-Bundestag Youth Exchange’s Vocational program in Germany before enrolling full-time at Florida State University; ESJ parent Lisa Taylor; and Andrea Rizzi from the College Counseling office.

The panel addressed the purpose and benefits of a gap year, what a gap year is and isn’t, parent concerns regarding taking a gap year, the costs involved when taking a gap year, how colleges and employers view a gap year and more.

Will Taylor commented, “My gap year consisted of two months of language immersion in Bonn, Germany. I then moved to Berlin where I worked with integrating German and international youth, mainly first and second generation immigrants to Germany into German society. I then worked at a German elementary school which allowed me to practice my German language skills. Lastly, I interned with a sales team in Berlin who specialized in prototypes and those applying for a copyright or trade mark for their product/idea. I learned how to work with 3-D printers which was very cool as well. All the while, I lived with three different host families who helped me to experience German culture and provided a nice family life away from work. During my Gap Year, I also maintained a blog for the Florida State University on my experiences abroad for which I earned a scholarship. Taking a gap year gave me all the tools to succeed in college and beyond—skills that made me a better professional, student and person.”

The program was coordinated by and the panel was moderated by Parents’ Association volunteer Beth Mixon.

Three links to great articles on the value of a Gap Year:
Three links to additional resources for anyone interested in learning more about Gap Year programs:
USA Gap Years Fairs
Center for Interim Programs
Teen Life
General resource website (based in Boston) which has a variety of pages/links to solid resources.