Friday, 22 February 2013

Mind the GAP

We were delighted to be part of  Maclean's 2013 Campus Series.   Below is a copy of the article.   We work 

with wonderful gappers and families.  It was so exciting to be able to share one of their stories through this
article.  Gap years continue to become a pathway after high school, as a break in post secondary or even after, as we see in this case.   We believe in gapping at any age or stage in life.   As far as we have come to know, we are the only gap year planning organization that combines coaching and EQ within a structured gap year.  We partner with many exceptional companies who support gap year experiences.   We look forward to continuing to serve gappers and their families in creating a year we hope you will not forget!

Mind the gap

Gap years now happen before and after university
Mygapyear Cate M. India Nepal 2011.
University of Guelph undergrad Casey Panning, now 24, was sitting in a Southeast Asian geography class when it occurred to her that she might never see Asia. With vague plans to teach geography, and inspired by a friend who’d spent a semester in Singapore, Panning knew it was now or never.
The gap year—taking a year off school to work, travel or volunteer—has been a pre-university rite of passage in Europe, where it began in Britain in the ’60s and spread to other Commonwealth countries—including Canada. A Statistics Canada survey of about 8,500 high school graduates from 2000 to 2008 found that just 50 per cent had started college or university within the usual three months; 73 per cent had begun in a year’s time; and by 28 months after graduation, 81 per cent of students were attending a post-secondary school.
Some schools even encourage a break: York University’s Bridging the Gap program allows students to defer their acceptance; Harvard actually suggests it.
But while the gap year once fell definitively between high school and higher education, travelling the world at 17 or 18 just isn’t feasible for many people.
“First of all, my parents would have never let me,” says Panning, who finished a bacherlor’s in psychology before spending her gap year teaching English in Costa Rican slums and travelling with her boyfriend through Australia, Laos and Thailand. Besides parental objections and a lack of money (and fewer skills to land a job), more maturity makes a post-degree gap year easier and more rewarding than its post-high school equivalent. “It’s way better to get university done and then go,” Panning says.
Nobody tracks when or where college and university grads go after they receive diplomas or degrees, but Susan Griffith, a transplanted Canadian living in Cambridge, England, says the post-university or -college gap year is a trend that has emerged since she started publishing Taking a Gap Year in 1999. She says the later gap year is both practical—“you’ve already paid your tuition”—and situational. “It’s much more difficult to get a job right out of university these days.”
This is especially true for students who graduate from programs like English and philosophy; despite what they might have been told, a B.A. often isn’t enough. Instead of working at a menial job, travel—whether for work or volunteering or tourism—is a great way for students to beef up a resumé and set themselves apart from the competition.
“Gap years were once frowned upon by employers, as if kids would rather travel than focus on their careers,” says Katie Idle, director of Vancouver-based Study and Go Abroad, Canada’s largest travel fair. “But things are changing; the workplace is globalized. Now it’s a big asset if you’ve travelled, interacted with cultures and lived in a different country.”
Indeed, studies show gap years actually benefit students. The non-profit Canadian Council on Learning found students who took gap years—affectionately known as “gappers”—were eight per cent more likely to find employment upon return, possibly because of their extra work experience.
Conversely, a bad gap year can hurt your chances for success. “An unsuccessful gap year is when you get some terrible local job and never get around to doing anything,” says Griffith.
To avoid this, a slew of personalized gap-year planning companies are flooding the Canadian marketplace. Toronto-based My Gap Year, for example, offers “a unique combination of life coaching and travel,” says co-founder Julie Newton. Her current clients, about half of them doing a post-university gap year, have found themselves living in the Amazon jungle, working on a ranch in the Australian outback and hanging out with Tibetan monks.
“We start the program with coaching,” says Newton. “We ask, ‘What do you want out of this year? What are your goals? What’s important to you?’ ”
If travel isn’t possible or of no interest, a stay-at-home gap year can be equally good for boosting a lacklustre portfolio. “We had one student who wanted to go to film school, so we got her into an online writing course, she volunteered at the Toronto International Film Festival and worked at a Cineplex movie theatre,” says Newton. The student was soon accepted into the program she wanted.
Most important, a gap year removes students from the conveyor belt of academia to get some much-needed perspective and appreciation for what they have. “People learn that they live very privileged lives and not to take simple things—water from a tap, even—for granted,” says Griffith. For most, another year of education may not seem so bad.
Which is exactly what Casey Panning did when she returned to Toronto. Thoroughly convinced she wanted to teach, she enrolled in teacher’s college and graduated last June. But teaching jobs are scarce. “I’m working at a law firm for the time being,” she says. And if nothing in her field pops up soon, would she tap out and go travelling again? “I would absolutely love to,” she says.
all rights belong to the author and Maclean's

Friday, 8 February 2013

Funding A Gap Year - Little by Little

One of the questions we often get in the travel and gap year world is about money.   At mygapyear we specialize in working within individuals based on their budget.  Some of you future gappers out there might consider some tips from the image below.  While we don't support all of the ideas, here are a few to get you started.   Just remember, keep safe!

In Greek there is a saying:  Bean by bean you fill a sack.  It sounds better in greek, but the meaning is not lost in translation.   Every bit counts.  

Friday, 1 February 2013

Value of a Gap Year: From the Horse's Mouth

Gap years have value
Tuesday, January, 29, 2013; 11:22 PM 
After roughly 16 years, 200 months, and 3,000 days of continuous school, is it such a ludicrous idea that you would want to take a break?

Asking for one year for a student who has completed their bachelor’s degree does not seem that outrageous.

We live in a society focused on work and monetary value, which promotes the mindset that you need to get through college and join the workforce right away.

However, the workforce is not going anywhere.  Some may view a gap year as a waste of time or strictly for those who are unprepared or underqualified, but this is not true.

According to an article in the Harvard Crimson, the “New Gap Year” is becoming quite a trend for many pre-med students.  The rate of students who took a gap year were actually more successful in achieving their professional goals.

For students looking to get into medical school, pharmacy school or any other graduate school, a gap year is the perfect time to take the MCAT, PCAT or GRE.  Also, it is a good time to build on your clinical or field experience by doing an internship or job shadowing.

Additionally, college is expensive, although many of us do not realize it because our parents are supporting us through our undergraduate studies. A year off is the perfect time to make some money for professional school, which, for many, is most likely a time when students will be financially independent.
The application process to professional schools alone can cost up to $5,000, so if you are not adequately prepared, you can use this time to improve yourself as an applicant so you do not have to spend this money more than once.

If none of the options above seem riveting enough, traveling is a great way to diversify yourself before another round of school.

Usually, study abroad programs are extremely expensive and hard to fit into your schedule during the school year. However, once you have a bachelor’s degree, nothing should hold you back from exploring.
As you gets older, life brings more responsibilities, so now is the time you can experiment while your workload is low. In the midst of deadlines, projects and GPAs, we forget to fully explore all that a new place has to offer.

A gap year is not the easy way out or a waste of time. Rather, it is a chance to breathe and build on the areas you might have forgotten about.

No one ever said stepping out of the box is going to take you down the wrong road — if anything, perhaps you will be better off in the end. Like they say, it is not about the time it took you to make it, it is the journey and what you take from it that matters in the end.