Although enrolling in college immediately upon graduating from high school is still the choice that a vast majority of students make, it seems as if there are an increasing number of alternatives.
One such alternative is taking a gap year.
Gap Years for Teens
Gap years, while the focus can vary greatly, give graduating seniors the opportunity to push the pause button on their curricular academic education. Most students use this time to travel, volunteer, or work abroad, although others may choose to remain in their home communities and work or spend time defining their interests before beginning university study.
Travel Gap Year Programs
There are many reasons that students take gap years. They may want to travel extensively before beginning school, or they may have interests in another area of the world and want to experience life there. International experience has become increasingly valued on resumes, and with graduate schools and entry-level jobs becoming more competitive, students may view gap year experiences as a way to get a leg up when it comes time to apply for opportunities after graduation.
Students may also feel “burnt out” after high school, and want to take a break before embarking on an even more challenging college degree. Or, they could view the opportunity as a time to volunteer or participate in humanitarian efforts while they have the time and flexibility to do so.
Taking a gap year is not the only option, however, for teenagers who want to gain international experience, travel, or volunteer. There are also several reputable summer programs for high school students that offer similar experiences, without the commitment of an entire year away from school or the cost of traveling abroad for an entire year.
International Summer Programs for Teens
Global Leadership Adventures, which operates international service-learning programs for teenagers in 12 countries, is one such organization. GLA programs allow students to experience life in a developing country, giving back to the community through meaningful service projects and immersing themselves in a new culture, without the commitment of being abroad for an entire year. These programs range in length from 10 days to 8 weeks, and can add international experience to a resume without having to pause before beginning university.
In fact, students can participate in summer programs as early as freshman year in high school, making it easy to find the time to include this type of experience, during breaks from formal schooling. They’ll also have the chance to connect with other students their age who have similar interests, which doesn’t always happen when you’re traveling solo on a gap year.
Enhancing World Views & Perspective for Teenagers
International experience is incredibly valuable in providing an enhanced world view and perspective, regardless of whether it is gained through a gap year, study abroad experience, or summer volunteer program. For students who want a challenging, rewarding and eye-opening experience during their summer breaks, though, Global Leadership Adventures programs are an excellent option.