There are many names to describe the time between high school and college. It is a time for exploration and experiences outside of a students “comfort zone”. This time has been described as, “A year after high school graduation and before college to recharge while participating in alternatives to mainstream education”.
Reasons why students choose an interim or gap year are wide and varied. It is a very indivdual and personal decision for each student and his/her family. Many see the time before college as a natural break in a student’s procession along the academic path. Some reasons why students take advantage of this time are:
1. They are old enough to travel on their own and it is often the first time that they experience and identify themselves as separate from family and friends. This can be an important step in their maturation.
2. It is often the first time that they are exercising a sustantive choice regarding what it is that they want to do with their lives, at least for twelve months. Since students view it as their year, they take more responsibility for it and for themselves.
3. They get a chance to focus on their interests and decide what they want to do in college. They develop independence and the ability to work on their own. They create a network of contacts to use in their future and most important they have a sense of accomplishment and pride in themselves when their year is completed.
4. They are not academically or emotionally prepared for the rigors of college. They need a respite from their studies and the interim year provides a non-traditional educational experience for them. During this time off students develop the necessary skills for a successful college experience. Interim programs can include travel, adventure or the opportunity to volunteer.