Over the last six years, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with families from all over America looking for a Gap Year. Usually, students are the first on board, trying to sell the idea to parents. So many of our conversations are with parents who are asking important questions about this new trend. I’ll attempt to give 5 GREAT questions parents are asking. Maybe, on your search, you are asking the same ones.
1. Will my Student Forget How to Learn?
One of the first concerns we see with our prospective parents goes something like If my student takes a year off, will they ever return to college?
Of course there are those who feel like you just need to keep trucking along through the education system. It’s safe. It’s what everyone else is doing. It seems like a protective way to make sure your student goes to University and finishes. But the reality of the situation is quite the opposite.
According to the Center for Education Statistics, of all the Freshman entering the University system in the fall, only 59% will actually finish their degree in four years. That means over 40% of students who enter University actually drop out and forget how to learn. There are plenty of reasons why, but a Gap Year shouldn’t detour you from thinking your student can still be successful at the University level. In fact, we see 100% of our students who have completed The KIVU Gap Year go on to University.
2. Will My Student be Safe?
Being a father of five children myself, I know our kids are THE MOST IMPORTANT part of our family unit. We’ve spent the last 18 years preparing them for this moment. So, if I send them off to a Gap Year, isn’t that just sending them to the wolves?
Contrary to our intuition, safety is something we can only mitigate. We can’t control it. Even though we feel like sending our kids off to University is “safe” just read through the articles on University Sexual Assault, University Party Life, and just recently at The University of Texas a young girl was murdered by a 17 year old boy.
At The KIVU Gap Year, we take safety VERY SERIOUSLY. We don’t have any intention of being on the front news story cycle by being negligent. We have the same concerns you might have about the safety of your kids.
In our program, we don’t send students anywhere our staff hasn’t been before.
We only send our students to places where we have strong relationships with the host partners.
We send staff on the ground to help students navigate the different locations.
AND, we are connected to The State Department, The U.S. Congress, and other organizations in and around the area.
Can a gap year promise 100% safety? Of course not. Just like the University can’t promise your student is going to be safe on campus. Risk and safety are matters of mitigation. I believe we do a great job mitigating the risks students may face, and helping educate them on being safe while in the program.
3. Will I be Able to Talk With My Student on a Gap Year?
In a world where the internet has basically revolutionized the way all countries exist, the locations we send students to all have internet access. Many of the locations are supported by the major cell phone carriers, and can be accessed right from the palm of your students hand.
If anything, our role is to help the family understand how to allow students to be present in their internships. In today’s world, constant texting, phone calling, and video calls reign. A Gap Year can be a vehicle to help teach students when it’s proper to use those wonderful communication tools, and how parents might also engage while students are learning how to be on their own.
4. Why do you think a Gap Year is necessary?
Personally, I believe the Gap Year concept is the latest stab at an education revolution. For the first 18 years of a student’s life, we primarily focus on their regurgitation of information, but in reality; what we’re getting on the back end is someone who knows facts and figures without proper experiences.
A Gap Year can provide experiences for students to take with them to marry theory to reality.
One way this worked out in my life was in foreign language.
I took 8 years of Spanish in the classroom, and when I went to study in Monterrey Mexico at an international university, I couldn’t understand hardly a word. The practical Spanish was void from my education. Ask me to write a paper in proper Spanish, I was set. But ask me to talk on the street…No chance.
Think about all the potential practical opportunities a student has when they live in a community in a foreign country. Language, business, philosophy, structure; they all play into the future learning a student might have in their vocation.
I believe Gap Year’s will be necessary requirements for students going to University in the future, and we’re already seeing the Tier 1 Schools start migrating that way. It may be a luxury today, but wait 5 years and you’ll see it necessary for the admissions to your chosen school.
5. Tell me about KIVU’s version of Faith? Is that central for the Gap Year Students?
As we started the KIVU Gap Year, one of the central core values we bring to the table is an exploration of spiritual development. We believe in the God written about in the Bible. We believe in the moral Kingdom the Bible Speaks of. We are Jesus centric. We believe in the message and teachings of Jesus, and we try to operate in a way congruent with the way Jesus might. (We teach students how to Love God and Love Others Matthew 22:37-40)
With that being said, we want to afford opportunities for a wide variety of faith traditions to engage with our program. We believe the values, the experiences, and the community development piece can happen whether someone believes what we believe or not.
So the short answer is, YES! The KIVU Gap Year is a Jesus centric program. We explore what it means to live in a world with a strong faith component with evidence that looks like much of the Sermon on the Mount found in the Bible in Matthew 5-7.
What we don’t want to become is a place that reduces faith down to simply information. We don’t have official spiritual curriculum. We don’t force students to go to church. We don’t tell students they have to believe one way or the other. We want students to explore their own faith, giving them opportunities to come to a realization of critical faith growth on their own.
Today over 80% of Christian students (those raised in Christian homes) who enter University actually reject their faith by the end of their first year. Again, there’s a lot of reasons why. But primarily we are seeing a group of students raised in a Christian environment with all the promise of being successful, and yet they fail.
So we can continue doing the same programs we’re doing in order to see the same results, OR we can have an environment full of Jesus principles where students can find their faith in the context of global discovery.
We would love to explore more questions with you, and we hope to have the chance. Stay tuned for more information on The KIVU Gap Year as we round out the class of 2015-16 and prepare for our next class in the fall.