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By GreatSchools Staff
For high school graduates who may not be ready to go straight to college, a gap year program is becoming an increasingly popular option. These programs allow students to take a year to gain some travel and/or practical experience and to find a focus before moving on to college. Many students on gap year programs have already been accepted to college but defer their acceptance for a year.
Dynamy, the oldest gap year program in the United States, is geared for students ages 17 to 22. Most of their students take the gap year between high school and college. A year-long academic program, its theme is career exploration and helping young adults find a focus. Each semester begins with an outdoor challenge, such as a kayaking or hiking trip. Students are placed in three non-paid internships during the year, suited to their interests, where they work with a mentor. A variety of options are available including working at a food bank, a theater company or with a political official. They also have the option to take a college-level seminar taught by a college professor each semester and receive college credit. They live in a house together with other gap year students and also perform 30 hours of community service. "Dynamy fits for kids who are itching to get out in the world and get some real world experience," says Carolie Sly, the Dynamy western-region admissions representative. "More and more colleges are recommending kids defer a year," she adds. "They are finding kids are more mature after a year off."
Nativ, a college leadership program based in Israel, provides an opportunity for students to travel, attend Hebrew University, learn leadership skills and experience Israeli life. Zach Roseman, now a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, took part in this gap year program after graduating from high school. "School can wait a year until you figure out who you are and look at the world around you," says Zach. "For this year, you are not worrying about your GPA, and you can take into account the big picture." Zach says once he started college after his gap year he was really excited to get back to school. "I approached learning eagerly and I was really motivated."
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) offers high school graduates an opportunity to explore the world by spending a year or a semester living with a family abroad, studying a foreign language and volunteering in the community or teaching English. Gap year programs are offered in China, Japan, Chile, the Dominican Republic, France and Spain.
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