Gap Years in the News

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As the year draws to a close some students are finishing up the first semester of their Gap Year. Others, are deep in planning mode for the coming academic year. This week we’re featuring four student voices, reflecting on the value of taking a Gap Year.

Be sure to click through and read each of the full articles!

Paralympic Hero Ellie Simmonds Shares Tale of Eye-Opening Gap Year

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“The 22-year-old five-time Paralympic swimming champion from Aldridge, Walsall, has travelled to America, China, Mexico, South Africa, Vietnam, Thailand and Australia over the last 12 months, leaving behind her daily training routine to explore new horizons.

Documenting her journey, Ellie has spoken of how visiting countries in her own time, rather than as a Team GB ambassador, gave her ‘huge confidence’ and how the experience has led her to consider taking up teaching when she retires.”

“”I wanted to get away, to be a normal 21-year-old and wake up and think: “What shall I do today?”

“I’m so often visiting places as an ambassador for Paralympics GB, and I’m really proud of that.

“But I didn’t feel like I was representing anyone when I was away; I was just Ellie, not Ellie the swimmer, and, to my surprise, that gave me huge confidence.”

Ellie’s travel activities included people watching in San Francisco, snorkeling in Shanghai, taking yoga lessons in Mexico and playing football for Britain at the World Dwarf Games in Australia.

The former Aldridge School pupil also spoke of how people from different countries approached her differently due to her achondroplasia.”

Read more…

Dear Stanford, Mind the Gap

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Eddie Mattout writes:

“Attending a private, college-preparatory high school, the thought of taking a gap year never crossed my mind. I was consumed by my goal to attend the most prestigious university I could, as soon as possible. When I was accepted to Stanford, I watched every YouTube video that had some, if even tangential, relation to the Stanford experience and anxiously awaited Approaching Stanford’s weekly emails.

My life took a different direction, however. During the summer of 2015, I found myself volunteering in a children’s home in Israel. With a cohort of twenty Americans, I helped run a summer camp for children from at-risk backgrounds. Our philosophy was that “it is much easier to believe in yourself when others believe in you.” Every day, we ran different activities for the children, including a World Cup soccer tournament, color war, and swimming in the pool. Quickly, I became enamored with the project and the children we worked with, and decided to take two years off to help develop the non-profit and empower the children to establish successful lives and happy families. During that time, I also drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, which gave me deeper insights into the culture and daily realities of Israeli citizens.”

Read more…

QIAN: The Gift of Gap

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Lisa Qian writes:

“Not only is a gap year a chance to address the issues we experience during our time at Yale, but it is also a chance to look and learn beyond Yale. Most of us are quick to recognize the Yale bubble, and gap years are an opportunity to push yourself outside of it.

Since arriving in Indonesia in September, I have been pushed to think in ways that Yale had never asked me to. I’ve been an agro-tourism developer, freelance graphic designer for Southeast Asian nongovernmental organizations and translator and storyteller for an archaeology museum. But more importantly, by living in a society so foreign to what I grew up with, I have had innumerable realizations of my own ignorance. Speaking with everyone from village bureaucrats to veterinarians has forced me to examine my perceptions of achievement culture, oppression, colonialism and my own liberalism in ways that interactions with people at Yale, no matter how diverse our campus is, do not ask of me. In Bali, I’m learning about a fundamentally different understanding of how the world works. This requires me to unlearn so much that I took to be universal, which is a difficult and humbling task.”

Read more…

College Can Wait: Lessons Learned During My Gap Year

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“Arriving at the decision to take a gap year took a long time, but once it was made, everything became easier. This decision put things back into perspective for me, and helped me prioritize my time and invest in what I truly cared about, such as the relationships with like-minded people I came to cherish at TGS, the plethora of cultural, social and sensory experiences I came across during travels and, yes, even the enervating amount of essay writing once I actually applied it in real life practice while writing up case study reports for my internship.”

“Initially, I was afraid that I wouldn’t find enough meaningful projects to fill a whole year with. Now halfway through my gap year, I still feel like I have so much left that I want to do. I feel inspired by new opportunities weekly. The hard decision is not how to find opportunities, but instead where to best invest my time as opportunities worth pursuing are everywhere.

The most critical lesson I’ve learnt, undoubtedly, is to find comfort within the feeling of uncertainty. While insecurities still linger from time to time based on the judgement faced from having chosen a gap year, I know I would be experiencing the same kind of internal insecurity had I chosen to jump straight into university. So far, choosing a gap year was my personal best bet. It gave me a sense of clarity of what I want to do next, while providing the motivation and hands-on experience needed to understand why pursuing an alternative business degree in global change and project management is right for my future.”

Read more…

Welcome ARCC: Newly Accredited Members of AGA

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Newly Accredited: Adventures Cross Country (ARCC)

We are very excited to announce the accreditation of another fabulous Gap Year program provider: Adventures Cross Country (ARCC).

ARCC Gap semester programs that focus on living locally, working, learning and exploring in some of the greatest classrooms on earth. Designed with an academic fabric that complements each and every location, ARCC Gap programs highlight regional issues that are directly linked to global challenges

For over 30 years ARCC Programs has offered extraordinary service and adventure programs for teenagers in some of the world’s most spectacular locations. With 22 programs on 6 continents, ARCC is proud of the lasting impact that generations of ARCC students have had on the people and the communities they visit and volunteer in throughout the world.

We’re honored to add this time-tested company to our community of Accredited Members and are excited about the possibilities their membership affords students seeking an educational and service oriented Gap Year.

The ARCC Gap Year

ARCC Gap Year programs offer an educational semester in a global classroom and cultural bridge between high school and college. They are an opportunity to live, work, learn and explore in some of the greatest classrooms on earth. Designed with a rich academic fabric complementing each and every location, they highlight regional issues that are directly linked to global challenges.

Here’s what ARCC has to say about the programs they provide:

Unique and Unforgettable Experiences

ARCC is committed to providing unique and life-changing experiences that resonate deep within our students. On our programs, our students venture far off the beaten path, go to places and do things that most people can only dream about. We’ve spent over thirty years building close relationships with organizations and communities around the world to ensure our students engage in truly intimate, authentic encounters with the people, the cultures and the lands they visit.

Rich Educational Programming

Education is an essential part of the ARCC experience. Lessons throughout the program may be academic, in the form of the trip curriculum, or may be experiential, delivered through immersion in new ideas and situations.

Community-Driven Projects

ARCC Summer and Gap programs focus on community-driven and community-led sustainable projects that run on the ground year round. We invest in local communities by working with in-country partners and individuals who know the needs of the community and help provide quality projects that directly benefit the places we visit. We prioritize grassroots organizations that allow students to have hands-on experiences, while building meaningful relationships with community members.

Learn More About ARCC

National College Planning Summit Interview With Ethan Knight

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High school seniors are in the throes of college admissions paperwork and planning. The National College Planning Summit is a free online resource to help parents and students navigate the, sometimes rough, waters of the transition from high school to college.

The Summit is now available on YouTube and the Summary Notes of each interview are available for free download

Check out Ethan’s interview about Gap Years and college planning:

Click here for the summary notes of Ethan’s interview.

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