Friday, 14 December 2012

Who Gap? You Gap!

The holidays present an opportunity for individuals who are currently in their first year of studies, or planning for their lives after high school, taking a break can be a very important part of a young person's transition period.   Why would you take some time off?  Should you take time off?   What would others say? What could my gap year look like?  Do universities or colleges find it interesting if I take a break? Won't I be behind?

The break from school provides a great time to consider all of these questions.  Here is an article we found interesting to help you consider whether gapping for a period of time might be a in your future!
The next few weeks we will explore these questions. 

Gap year travel: does time out really enrich?

Our education expert weighs the pros and cons of taking a pre-university break.

Gap year travel: does time out really enrich?
Rather than treating a gap year as an extended holiday, broaden your horizons and try to do something useful 

A close friend’s daughter spent her gap year teaching in a charity school for primary-age children in Mexico. “The children thought I had travelled there by donkey. I had done Spanish GCSE alongside my A-levels but I ended up teaching them Spanish as literacy levels were so low.” She lived with a local family. “Their plumbing was a bit down to earth but their generosity was amazing.”
Her younger brother spent his year teaching at a Church of England mission school in Zimbabwe. Afterwards he raised money to finance further education for pupils who have gone on to build successful careers. Another brother worked on a conservation project in Belize.
Each year some 50,000 young people do work placements abroad. Numbers have been growing since National Service ended in the late Fifties, as has the number of companies which organise gap years. One of the first was Lattitude Global Volunteering, founded in 1972.
“Rather than being an extended holiday our placements involve learning to take responsibility for others,” says Nick Adie of Lattitude Global Volunteering. “Young people should push themselves out of their comfort zones and do something productive with their time out.”
Lattitude’s programmes involve helping in schools, hospitals, care homes and conservation projects. They are not without dangers and difficulties. “I learnt how to deal with things myself and I am a much stronger person than I was before,” says one volunteer who taught at an Aboriginal school in Australia.
Callum Kennedy, director of BUNAC, which specialises in overseas work, says that competition for jobs is making work overseas placements more popular than ever.
“With unemployment at a very high rate, a work placement - particularly one that is relevant to a career - will add value to CVs, helping young people to stand out from the crowd in the job market.”
Using a gap year to learn another language at partner schools abroad is also considered a useful activity. This method offers total immersion, the most effective way to progress.
But while gap year organisations suggest skills acquired abroad will do wonders for your CV, how do universities and employers view it?
“A minority of gap year experiences are truly admirable,” says Robert Swannell, chairman of Marks & Spencer. “They require skill and determination, a sense of structure and of selflessness, for instance in such things as teaching in Third World countries.”
“That can be a useful, sensible way of spending an invaluable period,” says Giles Henderson, master of Pembroke College, Oxford. All three of Henderson’s children took a year out: his son, Simon, taught in South Africa, caught the teaching bug and is now headmaster of Bradfield College.
Robert Hingley, a senior adviser to the investment bank Lazard, explains: “In a shrinking job market, when you have 300 applications for every place, some 100 of them will be stunning but few will stand out. Almost all will have first-class degrees. Those who have taken an interesting gap year will have had the opportunity to progress beyond merely achieving things. At interview they may well come across as personalities. They will have grown up.”
But there are many companies selling risk-free excitement rather than the less comfortable virtues of service. “Often a gap year looks like a six-month jolly – and with a privileged person all the more so,” says Mr Swannell.
“Sometimes it looks like an extended holiday,” agrees Sir Michael Rake, chairman of BT. “A gap year carries no particular magic: employers look for technical skills and qualities of leadership, though time out may help you come across as a broader, more experienced person.” In a technical world like that of BT, with 7,500 applicants for 200 places on the BT Graduate Scheme, the gap year plays a relatively small part on your CV.
Mr Henderson reckons about 15 per cent of those going up to Pembroke College take a year out beforehand. Among these, there are distinct successes. But gap year plans have little effect on the admissions process and some science dons worry that successful candidates can forget some of the science and maths they knew when they came for interview. There’s a danger, too, that they will forget how to work.
A spokesman for Exeter University says: “We recognise that many students benefit from the experience of a gap year – whether it involves work experience, travel or employment.” He encourages applicants to explain in their Personal Statements “how their experiences will make them a better student in their subject of choice”.
Peter Frankopan, who teaches Byzantine and medieval history at Worcester College, Oxford, is cautious: “Gap year applicants can look like the finished product on paper, particularly if they come from the independent sector, but often the gap year is the latest of a string of achievements and activities undertaken to meet the expectations of teachers and parents. Part of the problem is that gap years have become professionalised: preset itineraries, trusted partners and “safe” locations might put parents’ minds at rest, but they also prevent the umbilical cord being cut.
“A gap year works if you leave home with an open mind and go off to find out more about the world – in other words, to grow up. But I’d much rather find that someone has done something genuinely useful,” says Mr Frankopan. Shouldn’t all 19 year-olds who can afford to take a gap year learn how to change a flat tyre, rewire a plug or cook a three-course meal? Or arrive at university with a command of one, or ideally two foreign languages?”
Foreign languages really do look good on a CV – in this country, at least.

  • Tommy Cookson is the former headmaster of Winchester College. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph’s 'Weekend’ section

Friday, 7 December 2012

Gift Giving For a World Traveler or Gapper

It is the season when many individuals are thinking about or planning their gift giving for the festive season. mygapyear has put a series of ideas together to help inspire you as you cross friends, family or others off your list.  Our favourite seasonal delight right now is the Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar.   Below are some ideas from The Ottawa Citizen to help inspire your gift giving or travel planning this festive season.

Icebreaker's Nature Scoop Top
What it is: A lightweight, washable top made of wool from the merino sheep (that's one below).
Why it makes the list: From underwear to outer layers, Icebreaker products, from New Zealand, are fast becoming athletes' and travellers' garments of choice because they feel so great, breathe and are washable. And what other product comes with a "baacode" that allows you to (virtually) meet the very sheep that grew your wool?

Tuk Tuk Carry-All Bag
What it is: An ingenious bag from lug.
Why it makes the list: What doesn't this bag do? It's the right size for carrying on a plane and has a strap on the back so you can slide it onto the handle of your wheeled luggage. It has 15 pockets, including two insulated ones for drinks, cellphone-sized ones and a ventilated compartment for shoes. It also has a drawstring bag and a cushiony pad inside -- for sitting on in Central Park, or changing a baby at a play group. And that's the surprise: hidden latch straps let you attach it to a baby stroller, for use as a diaper bag.

Heys xScale
What it is: The world's smallest portable luggage scale, its digital display measures up to 110 pounds (50 kg).
Why it makes the list: Because weight loss is always in. Especially when airlines are getting stricter with baggage allowances, you're travelling to that S&M conference, and the clerk is asking you to remove weighty items from your bag as impatient co-travellers in the queue rubberneck. It's also designed and developed in Canada.

The Flip Ultra Video Camera
What it is: A compact, cellphone-shaped video camera that records 60 minutes of digital footage. A built-in USB arm connects the gadget directly to your computer, which means one less wire in your frightening "techsessories" drawer.
Why it makes the list: It's super portable, cheap enough to abuse and the single red button (record, duh) eliminates a lot of confusion. Watch out, YouTube, granny's got a Flip!

What it is: The Barcelona company that makes Buff calls it "the original multifunctional headwear." It's a bit like a bandana, but it's a seamless loop of a microfibre fabric.
Why it makes the list: Besides being très cool, it's amazingly versatile -- just go to to see the "12 ways to wear a buff" video, which takes you from balaclava to "pirate" and back to a cap. It wicks, keeps you warm or cool as needed, and comes in a plethora of prints, including this Bushtukah exclusive.

Delsey Helium Mobility
What it is: A lightweight, hard-sided suitcase that meets carry-on size restrictions.
Why it makes the list: With more airline chaos, carry-on is the way to go. And this one is exceptionally light, loaded with useful pockets and straps and has sturdy latches rather than a zipper. The clincher: with four wheels, you can pull it sideways down narrow aisles.

Supernatural Travel Yoga Mat
What it is: A yoga mat that's small enough to stuff in your suitcase.
Why it makes the list: Made of natural rubber, this mat allows the yogi or yogini in your life to om away from home. It's thinner than a regular yoga mat, but all you need on a hotel-room carpet.

Retreat Yoga Duffel
What it is: A duffel bag that's built big enough to hold a regular, rolled-up yoga mat, as well as all the clothes you need for a weekend away.
Why it makes the list: Made of recycled polyester and jute, with retro goddess images inside, it's the thing to have for yoga getaways. Pockets inside include one for a yoga block and a drawstring pouch for shoes. A detachable shoulder strap doubles as a mat-carrying strap. (Mat and water bottle not included, but would make appreciated additions.)

The BaByliss Pro TT
What it is: A tiny, perfect blow dryer. With a folding handle, it's less than seven inches long, but delivers full strength, professional power (it's probably better than the one you usually use at home). It also has two voltage settings, so it works here and abroad.
Why it makes the list: Because you want to have good hair when you're on holidays -- just think of all those photos.

Nap Sac, From Lug Travel Essentials
What it is: A travel blanket and pillow set.
Why it makes the list: Just give it a squeeze. Fleecy soft, this groovy set is comforting and cosy warm. An inflatable pillow tucks into the case and the blanket has a pocket for your reading glasses or iPod. Great for planes, trains, car trips or concerts.

The TS2 Detailer
What it is: A teeny-tiny, but powerful, hair straightener. It's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but makes fast work of unruly bangs and frizzy ends.
Why it makes the list: Anyone who sees this thing in action (OK, any young woman), is amazed. Big hair goes sleek in seconds. We've even heard that some professional stylists are using this travel device at home.

Better Energy Systems Solio Classic Solar Charger
What it is: Tap into that big ball o' burning gas and power up cameras, cellphones, MP3 players and GPS devices on the road. One hour of sun yields 20 minutes of talk time or 50 minutes of music on your iPod.Why it makes the list: Flashpacking (tech-laden backpacking) is cool, and that "Morocco On Foot" blog is lookin' mighty fine. But, sadly, hauling a 10-pound adapter supply through the Sahara is no mirage.

TravelRest Pillow
What it is: An inflatable travel pillow that's shaped like an extended comma. Sling the tether cord over the seat back on an airplane or car and cuddle the cushion.
Why it makes the list: The typical horseshoe travel pillow still leaves you feeling like your head is forming a right angle with your torso. This innovative device keeps your noggin upright.
Bonus: When deflated, it takes up minimal space in your luggage.

All rights belong to:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Learn how to gap in 4 mins 39 seconds

Travelling is an emotional experience.  Highs, lows and all the feelings in between.  As an organization, we have crafted our program to include Emotional Intelligence as a method of exploring more deeply who you are.   Travel is an amazing way to find out more about yourself, others and the world.  But, don't take my word.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Planning and Preparing for a gap year: by a student for fellow students

Gap Year Can Present Opportunity if Planned Correctly

Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 11:10
Courtesy of Hugh Grannum/MCT
Students are increasingly taking gap years in-between high school and college to pursue non-academic interests.

More high school graduates are deciding that time away from the classroom is a better decision for them from college. The Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-LosAngeles says about 1.2 percent of up-and-coming college freshmen will take a year off before heading to a university.
That is not a huge number, but it is a growing trend. And hey, why not spend a year exploring a new country, learning a new language or working to earn some money to pay for school?
Jeff Coltin, FCRH ’15, columnist for The Ram, wrote that he likes the idea of a gap year. He says that he would like to visit a Spanish-speaking country to learn the language intensively.
Bernie Stratford is the director of experimental education at Fordham University’s Office of Career Services. He says that if young adults are productive with their gap years, it can look good on a resume. 
“With the marketplace being as volatile and as dynamic as it is, employers are interested in students’ experiences,” Stratford said. “I don’t even consider the gap year a year off, it’s just another year developing your employability and developing as a person.”
Padding a resume is not the only reason people are delaying going to college; some students need time to save up cash. According to USA Today, tuition went up 15 percent from 2008 to 2010. Administrators in Fordham University’s Office of Admission say they understand that some students must defer going to college for a year because of financial reasons.
“Since 2008, we’ve seen more students expressing the need to save for college,” John Buckley, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, said. “Economic reasons [among deferring students] have probably climbed in recent years.”
The gap year can have its downsides, as some young adults struggle to find the motivation to get back into the swing of things. A study done in 2003 by the National Center for Education Statics shows that only roughly 15 percent of students who waited a year to go to college picked up a bachelor’s degree. In that same report, 44 percent of those who went straight to a university got their diploma.
There are some high school graduates who defer enrollment for a year and take classes at a community college. This is a risk, as students who perform poorly at a local school can hurt their status at other universities.
 “If they [gap year students] go to another school for a period of time to strengthen their academic profile, there would be a reassessment of their credentials” Buckley said.
Stratford agrees that anyone thinking about time off should have a strategy in place.
“If you’re going to take a year off, make sure you have a plan because the importance of receiving an undergraduate degree speaks for itself,” he said.
The U.S. Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections has some tips for those interested in taking a gap year. The department says students should figure out how their financial aid will be affected by talking to the school they are interested in attending. It is also important to plan out a budget that calculates living expenses for the year.
After talking with Fordham’s Office of Admission, career services and students on the Rose Hill campus, I thought about whether I would have taken a year off before coming to Fordham knowing what I do now. I could have gone to Italy, learned Italian and found a nice Italian gal to settle down with in Venice. Luckily, coming to the Big Apple from a small suburb in Arizona has worked out pretty well for me so far.
“The whole idea of a year off sounds like a good time,” Martin McCormack, FCRH ’15, said. “But I don’t regret my decision to come to New York City. I’m having a blast here.”
I could not agree more.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Keeping a Pulse on our Gappers & the News.

Have you wondered what some of our gappers are up to around the world?  Currently, we have several gappers traveling, preparing to embark, and many that are just beginning their journey.  We look forward to some guest blogs by one of our gappers in the coming weeks.  For now, let's explore the South American adventures of one of our gappers who is currently travelling our wonderful world.

Of Buses and Beaches

Trip StartSep 17, 2012
Trip EndDec 06, 2012

Loading Map
© 2012 Nokia© 2012 Microsoft Corporation
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Flag of Ecuador  Pastaza
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Greetings from South America!

Following our Machu Picchu excursion, we packed our bags and began our week long voyage to the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador. Lucky for us though, there were quite a few stops along the way!

The first of said stops was in Lima, the capital of Peru and one of the largest cities in all of South America. The city itself was unlike any we have visited thus far in terms of both size and nature. It is a city of extremes and in the the short time we spent there we were exposed to modern urbanization and rich cultural tradition, extreme wealth and rampant poverty, as well as both the very familiar and the inherently strange.

As soon as we dropped off our bags, many of us decided to visit the catacombs of the San Franciscan Friary in the heart of the historical district

Mancora Beach
Mancora Beach
. For hundreds of years this crypt has housed the remains of many saints and monks, and today is widely regarded as one of the jewels of the city. Following our tour, a short ten minute walk took us to the main plaza, an area that looked like it could have belonged in Western Europe. The plaza consisted of many high end boutiques and department stores, and also played host to the first McDonald´s any of us have seen in the last two months (interesting to note, that here McDonald´s is more along the lines of a legitimate restaurant as opposed to its more traditional role of fast food back home). As night fell, we decided to stay in the hostal (not wanting to take any unnecessary risks in a city as large as Lima), playing instruments, telling ghost stories, and mentally preparing  ourselves for the days ahead.

The next day we boarded a bus destined for Mancora, a town situated in the beautiful northern beaches of Peru. The ride was a twenty hour haul up the coast, made nice by the luxury bus we decided to splurge on. Although the ride sounded awfully intimidating beforehand, many of us used the time to begin our vacation a little bit early, catching up on some sleep, reading, and watching movies (the bus attendants were nice enough to play several in English, as our group took up more than three quarters of the bus).By the time we arrived in Mancora we were already in full relaxation mode . We changed into our bathing suits and picked our favorite hammocks as the next two days passed in a blur.

Our first night we built a bonfire on the sand and were serenaded under the stars by Noah and Shawn. I think the old saying is true that ¨music is the universal language,¨ because not long after the instruments were brought out, were we joined by the other members of the hostal. Soon we had Americans, Canadians, Germans, and Argentinians all singing around the fire. It was truly a sight to see (and hear)! This was also the night of the presidential election and everybody, no matter the nationality, was interested in the outcome. The few with wi-fi enabled devices kept us all updated on the latest news, and when the final decision was announced, those of us who were still awake celebrated Obama´s victory with a couple of late night hamburgers.

Mancora passed all too fast, and before long we found ourselves on another bus, this time headed for Cuenca, our first stop in Ecuador and the beginning of the last leg of our three month journey through South America. We crossed the border with no problems and arrived in Cuenca late at night. Not to worry though, because the next day we had ample time for independent exploration of the old colonial town . We stayed in the middle of the historical district. The streets were cobblestone, the buildings old, and each corner, it seemed, had a church and a bakery.

First impressions of Ecuador had us realizing that there is something different about this country than the others we have visited thus far, although none of us could seem to place our finger on it. Perhaps it is a more modern culture with less of an Aymaran and Quechuan influence, or perhaps it is a tad bit newer or the area as whole cleaner. It is too early to tell for sure, but we are all excited to see and experience more of this new chapter of the trip.

Again, after having only spent two nights in Cuenca we boarded another bus to Baños, a city known for its natural baths and outdoor adventure. With just a two night stay to enjoy one of Ecuador´s main attractions, we decided to make the most of it. Donning our wetsuits and life jackets, we braved the whitewater rapids of the Rio Verde.  We left with more than a few stories to tell. It is safe to say that this rafting adventure has definitely been one of the highlights of the trip thus far!

Feeling rested and relaxed after our mini vacation of sorts, we are now all eager to begin the next portion of our adventure -- the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest . It is sure to be a difficult two weeks both mentally and physically, although for many of us it is the challenge we have most looked forward to. We will not have access to internet and so, unfortunately, there will not be another blog post for quite some time. However, as the holiday season nears, we would like to say that we love and miss all of you back home and wish you the very best. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Read more:

Friday, 2 November 2012

Up in the Air & AQ

World Airline Routes Map

Above is the flight patterns throughout the globe over time. Pretty interesting, no? The 
way the artist has captured them shows how truly beautiful it is that we can see the world
through flight.

Sometimes when we are up the in air, things change, we change and maybe we become different people. What happens to you when you are up the air? On an episode of Definitely Not the Opera, the team explores life Up in the Air. This podcast shares a series of stories of 
things that have happened to others while they are off the ground having adventures.

Why does this matter when talking about mygapyear?

In our work, we explore emotion intelligence. In a recent visit to Psychology Today, we 
found a self-assessment for your AQ - any guesses what that could be?

Adventure Quotient (AQ) Test

On the site you will read the following: 

77 questions, 30 min 

How adventurous are you? Thrill-seeking can come in different forms, whether it's doing a swan dive bungee jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand, or trying that new exotic restaurant around the corner from work. The type of adventure you enjoy (or avoid) depends a great deal on your personality. Are you more of a planner or spontaneous? Courageous or careful? Do you have the energy level of a bee or a sloth? Find out more about your adventure personality with this test!

Examine the following statements and choose the answer option that best applies to you. There may be some questions describing situations that may not be relevant to you. In such cases, select the answer you would most likely choose if you ever found yourself in that type of situation. In order to receive the most accurate results, please answer as truthfully as possible.

After finishing the test, you will receive a Snapshot Report with an introduction, a graph and a personalized interpretation for one of your test scores. You will then have the option to purchase the full results.

Friday, 26 October 2012

A Primer on Gap Years

This is a great article that answers some varied questions about gap years that are especially pertinent this time of year when youth are thinking about their next steps in life.  We would love to share our experience as Canadian advocates of gap years, and approaches to alternative time away from school at any point in a college, university or workforce year

A primer on gap years
It’s the season when high school seniors are frantically filling out college applications and trying to figure out where they will be and what they will be doing next fall.
There is some evidence that a growing number of U.S. high school graduates are taking a year off before going to college. But there are questions about how gap years work, and who they benefit and what colleges think about them.
To get some answers, I talked with Laura R. Hosid, an expert on gap years at the Vinik Educational Placement Services, Inc. in Bethesda, and you can read the Q & below.
 Q) What exactly is a gap year and when do students take one? Is it always right after high school?
 A gap year typically describes a year off between high school and college.  While gap years have long been a common practice in England and other countries, they have only recently gained popularity in the United States.  Gap years offer an opportunity to travel, explore different interests, and gain experience and maturity before beginning college.

Q) How many kids do this in the United States? How different is this than in England?
There are no official statistics on how many U.S. students take gap years, but many colleges and guidance counselors have noticed a recent upward trend.  According to a 2010 Time Magazine article, "[t]he number of Americans taking gap years through Projects Abroad, a U.K. company that coordinates volunteer programs around the world, has nearly quadrupled since 2005."
While gap years are gaining popularity in the United States, they remain more popular in England, where the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services found that 7% of all British students deferred admission to take a gap year in 2007.  According to the Higher Education Research Institute, an estimated 1.2 percent of first-time college freshmen in the United States deferred admission to take a gap year in 2011.  Neither of these numbers include students who may have applied to college after taking a gap year. 
Q) Why do kids usually taken a gap year? Are they exhausted from high school? Looking for a way to boost their resumes to get into college?
Many students choose to take a gap year because they see it as an opportunity to try something new and take a break from formal schooling, while also realizing that the perspective, maturity and experience they gain can benefit them in their college careers.  A gap year can be an excellent opportunity to actively pursue an interest or passion and thereby gain experience that will be attractive to employers after graduation. 
Some students take a gap year because they feel that they need the time off because they are not academically or emotionally ready for college, and still others want a second chance to reapply to colleges the following year.
Regardless of their reason for taking a gap year, these students often return to school with renewed vigor and focus — in fact, a New York Times article cites a study by the Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College who observed that the average GPA for Middlebury students who had taken a gap year was consistently higher than those who had not. 
Q)  Would a new high school graduate who wants to take a gap year apply to college and get in first before declaring they want to take a gap year and ask for a deferment, or should they wait to apply? Are college/university admissions officers generally open to requests for a deferment for the purpose of taking a gap year?
The majority of students apply to college and secure a spot by placing an enrollment deposit, and then ask for a deferral.  Almost all colleges will approve a gap year if presented with a reasonable plan — in other words, one that does not involve lounging on the beach for a year!  In fact, Harvard University's acceptance letter actually encourages students to consider deferring admission to take a gap year.  According to Harvard's website, each year 50-70 students take advantage of this option. Other schools have also formally encouraged gap years -- for example, Princeton University's Bridge Year Program, and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill's Global Gap Year Fellowship Program.
Q)  If a student is looking to improve their chances of getting into college, what sorts of things do colleges like to see done during a gap year?
While a gap year can certainly enhance your admissions profile, it cannot compensate for deficiencies in your high school record.  While colleges support and encourage gap years, admissions officers rarely see gap year experiences have a dramatic effect on a student's chances of admission. 
With this in mind, the most valuable experiences are often those that delve deeper into a student's demonstrated interests, or otherwise reflect maturity and purpose. For example, a college is likely to view more favorably a prospective international relations major who completes a language immersion program while also interning or volunteering in a foreign country, compared to a student who backpacks and parties his way through Europe without a plan. 
Q) What kinds of things do students do on their gap years?
Many students choose to spend their gap year in structured programs volunteering abroad or in the United States.  There are also many opportunities to explore interests in the environment, arts, and other cultures.  Taking courses to improve academic skills is another option.  Within these broad categories, there are a myriad of options ranging from studying at the International Culinary Center in New York, to performing musical stage performances in multiple countries while living with host families with Up With People, to building trails in state parks with the Student Conservation Association.
One thing to keep in mind is that gap years need not be expensive or involve international travel.  City Year, part of AmeriCorps, provides a stipend and scholarship for 10 months of service in inner city schools. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms offers offer meals and housing in exchange for farming work.  
A gap year also does not need to be one full-year program.  Students often piece together different options to explore a range of interests, or can work for a few months to fund a shorter opportunity.   Short-term options can range from three weeks at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa with BroadReach to a month studying French at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota.
 Q) How do families get help planning one?
There are several good books available, including "The Complete Guide to the Gap Year" by Kristin M. White and "The Gap-Year Advantage" by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson.  Websites such as Teen Life offer listings of gap year programs by type - many private high schools and colleges also have lists available online.   In addition, USA Gap Year Fairs offer over thirty different fairs throughout the country (fairs are scheduled for Feb. 26, 2013 in Rockville, MD and Feb. 27, 2013 in Fairfax, VA).  Finally, there are a small number of educational consultants who focus on gap year advising and can help students figure out what they want to do and help identify specific programs that would be a good match.
This is what mygapyear offers to our Canadian clients.  We look forward to working with you on creating your personalized gap year to fit your needs, dreams and goals.