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HomeAcademics & ActivitiesAcademic Skills

Alternate Routes to High School Success

Page 5 of 5

By GreatSchools Staff

Gap Year Programs

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.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/22/2011:
"My son is Very ADHD. I recently moved to New Jersey and his new guidance counselor seems to know more then anyone I spoke to in his middle schools in Florida. He is in 9th grade this year and finally, someone WANTS to know if he's classified and has he had an IEP or a 504. The two schools he went to in Florida did NOT want to deal with it. I never let a Dr. put him on meds until his 7th grade year. To me, they seemed to make him worse, not better. When he was small, he was so out of control that when I brought him to a doctor appointment, the staff would take us in to see the doctor in front of 5 patients, who were ahead of us to see the doctor. LOLOLOL At this point, I have been to see the guidance counselor twice and he only started school two weeks ago. He is 15 yrs old, 6'3" and refusing to go to school. I went in to sign a release for the school to get his file from the counselors and doctors he was seeing in Florida. Does anyone know of any kind of alternative schools ! in New Jersey, that take kids BEFORE they are 16?? I also had this problem in FL. I guess they want to wait until the child CAN actually quit school before they give us any resources. As it is, I am wondering when they are going to come here with handcuffs and take ME away. "
09/21/2011:
"is anyone know for independent tutors for 11th grader math & chemistry please? for el cerrito el sobrante,CA. Thanks "
04/13/2010:
"My oldest daughter age 16 is struggling in Highschool. She seems to have poor time management and lack of focus. She goes to a school were it seems like the staff members are training inmates. I don't know what to do before it is too late for her to get back on track. Im considering alternative school, but I dont want her to think she is being punished. What should I do not to loose my daughter all together."
03/3/2010:
"our alternative to public high school is a charter school.there are many in all states,my teenager was spinninning her wheels and wasnt learning much.teachers didnt seem to care,and they were loading her down with projects instead of teaching.grades were getting worse no time to breath just project after project.then we removed our child from diamond ranch hs,then enrolled her in a charter school.san gabriel vly school district has many locations in so cal area.we have one close to home,req attendance 2 hrs a week earning more credits than dia rnch will grad much sooner year round one on one instuction.straight a-s now. public schools and our state and some teachers are failing,they only care about the revinue.people wake up!"
11/3/2009:
"iam looking for a good shool for my son he has adhd and lead paint posing he is in the 10 gradebut he is 19 years old the school that he is in is ok but it is in a bad part town and iam trying to pull him away from his friends that go there because some of the kids is not trying to do nothing and they are holding the other kids back like my son so this s why iam looking for a good school iam not going to give up on himand he is not going to give up."
07/13/2009:
"Hi,Im A PARENT OF A CHILD WITH LEARNING DESABILITY. AND I DON'T SEE THAT HER TEACHER DO ANY ACADEMIC WORK FOR THE STUDENTS ENOUGH FOR MY DOUGHTER TO LEARN SOME READING, WRITING AND MATH. THEY GO AUT AVERY DAY AND I PREFERE NOT TO, MAYBE TUICE A WEEK."
05/26/2009:
"How can you help your child when they are behind or they don't seem have a good understand in some courses, especially math."
10/28/2008:
"what about kids forced to be in foundations cause its easier for the school to meet their requirements! I just figured it out. Not special ed - just LD - only getting IEP reading services not math - and in foundations and bored - took a gifted summer program with approved from Professor Lamella at Middlesex to encourage girls math/scinece/engineering - my daughter excelled - got confidence and learned her strenghts and weaknesses - zoned during the physics lessson but can apply what she learned came up with the winning desgn and they built it from scratch - came in 2nd place in juding - presented it for the group in front of at least 300 people! no one knew she was a SPED. Oh LD Oh a nice kid! I asked the foundations math teacher to help Jen where she may struggle - like have her stay if she gets 6 wrong out of 12 - help a tutor in the school come up with a plan to get her ready for the HESPA - to discuss with Jen the 'zero' for a homework assignment she received - to find out why her weekly reports say Jen is doing fine and the website you go to says she has a 'C' - to find out what on-line program they use so I can check it out. This was the response I got: 'Mrs. Cochrane, I have spoken with the my supervisor, the head of the Mathematics Department, about your request for supplies to use to prepare for the HSPA during the sophomore year. She has given me 2 copies of a resource for 'Early Preparation' which could be done in the 10th grade. Please do not write in the books, instead, use them as guides for the material to cover. One copy is for Jen and the other copy is for whoever tutors her. I've also included a copy of the answer key. Please return all 3 soft cover books to me in June 2009. I will have the 3 books in the front office with your name on them for pick up. A plan to prepare for the HSPA.....turn to page i through page iv. These are the topics to focus on. If a weakness shows up, spend additional time in that area. I've found that a little bit of help when you need it goes a long way. I was happy to see that the comments I forwarded to Mrs. Bitondo were included in the weekly updates you receive from her. Since you've included Jen's grades from Home Plus, I know that you have the tools you need to log on and keep abreast of Jen's progress. She's doing well. Glad I could help you. I'll send Mary Bitondo this week's update on Friday which she will forward on to you. Sue Whitt' does this fall under the 10th Amendment ? Why can't she speak to me - call - me - help my daughter? "
05/25/2007:
"This is valuable information and it did give more options for my high school student. Thanks for your help."
05/24/2007:
"As a college consultant, I assist students with college selection and the college admission process, but NOLS is a great program that I recommend to some students who may not be quite ready for college or others who may want to do something different first. It is especially good for those interested in the outdoors. They can get college credit for some outstanding outdoor leadership courses. Some of the courses are during the summer or school year and others are a semester long."
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