Will I want to go back to school?
Most parents wonder whether time away will result in students not returning to finish their education. Our experience is quite the opposite. All of our clients have returned to college or further education even if they had no intention of going back to a classroom. Time in the real world not only puts students in touch with others working in areas that interest them but also provides insight into the value, purpose and programs geared to your new interests. Once you identify an interest or passion you go back to the classroom for all the right reasons.
Will there be a transition back to the classroom?
Most students do go through a transitional period but it usually has nothing to do with academics as most people expect. That isn’t to say there will not be times when you wish you were back working on projects and with people who meant so much to you. The real transition however is social. Gappers are always surprised at the students who come straight from high school who have never stepped out of their comfort zone. They notice an immaturity and a lack of purpose or interest in why they have come to college. While your friends might be interested at first, no one can really understand what you have been through this past year except those who have done it. But don’t despair. Schools are recognizing this phenomenon and there are books and articles that address the topic of transition. Students say what’s most helpful is to keep in touch with people you met during your time away. Also ask your school if there are other gappers and students returning from a semester abroad. Taking Off is always here to talk with you and we can also put you in touch with other students who have been through the same. Everyone makes the transition, settles in and realizes that everyone is going through some kind of transition so give it time.
What about safety?
Our number one concern is the safety of our clients but people often differ on what is ‘safe’ and what they are comfortable with. Sadly we became aware that on a certain level no one is safe, even in school. While Taking Off cannot guarantee the safety of your son or daughter we make every effort to recommend options that have been tested. Where you go and what you do is ultimately between you and your parents. There are experiences in our database there were vetted to get into our database but have never been used. We always let you know and fully research and re-evaluate to see what has changed. We talk with our global contacts, program staff and past participants. Families need to do their part as well by frequently checking certain websites while you gather as much information as you can from a variety of different sources. There is The USA State Department Travel site and The Center for Disease Control site . One of the most important factors in the kind of experience you have is to get in touch with recent past participants and parents to make sure that the experience you are considering is a good fit with who you are and what you hope to accomplish. Realistic expectations go a long way to ensure a great experience.
Do participants come with friends?
Not really. Some options will have more students from the UK if you choose an experience offered by a UK organization but this has never been a problem. It always takes everyone a while to settle in and get to meet your fellow participants. For those options that have varying lengths of time you can sign up for, there may be people there who have already got to know others but again has not been a problem.
Will I fit in?
It always takes a few weeks for everyone to settle in; some do this more easily than others or at least appear to. There is always the adjustment to a new culture and new settings and situation so it’s important to give yourself time. We also stress how important it is to talk with recent past participants who can really give you a kind of feel for how they felt about their experience but what might be wonderful for one person, might be another person’s nightmare so you really do need to talk to others to make sure it’s a good fit. Ages may range and so to nationalities but students have always felt this to be a positive as long as there are a few people there around your age…. But it really depends on what you are looking for.
What happens if I need to cancel for whatever reason?
You and your parents must be sure to read the payment deadlines and refund policies so you are aware of when you need to pay and what you can expect if you do need to cancel.
How much does a Gap Year Cost?
A common question but a difficult one to answer as it depends on so many factors: what you want to do, where you want to go, how long you want to be away and how many experiences you hope to have, how you want to live, whether you want a semester based experience with the same group of people your age; etc. All opportunities in our database include some type of accommodations. We do not find paying jobs so there will be costs beyond our fees and the program cost; flights, insurance, visas, shots and equipment if necessary, out of pocket expenses. Studying photography in Italy is more expensive than organic farming in New Zealand. Experiential learning that offers college credit is more expensive than working in a health clinic in Appalachia. An internship in Europe is more expensive than an internship in a developing country. Taking Off makes every effort to work within your budget and is very clear with students that part of their year should be spent living at home to work or raise money towards the cost of their time away. Time away after all is about real life and in real life parents do not continue to write the checks. When it comes to cost, however, parents should also take into account whether a year’s tuition for a student lacking in maturity, motivation or focus is money well spent.