Great Gap Year Myth #1: I Won’t Return to College

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Welcome to our first installment in a new blog series, titled “Great Gap Year Myths”.  Our alumni are taking over as guest bloggers on this site to share with you their favorite myths about doing a gap year.  Here is Blair Boring, Class of 2014, with her perspective on Myth #1:  I Won’t Return to College.

Before I bust this myth, can I be honest for a second?

When I decided to join the KIVU Gap Year I honestly hoped I wouldn’t return home and go to college. Yep. I said it.

Have you ever met someone who said they weren’t a “school” person? Someone who enjoys school for the social bits but is completely unmotivated academically? Someone who passes all of their classes only because their teachers like them enough to give them a C?

For some of you reading, you know that person. For some of you reading, you are that person. For the latter group of you, I can relate.

That was me too.

Thankfully for me, in order to be accepted by The KIVU Gap Year you have to apply to a college of your choice and have an academic future & goal in mind. So, I applied to a few schools and got accepted (barely…) and a couple of months later I began the gap year where my thoughts on school and higher education were drastically changed.

My mind change was not because of one miraculous life changing experience, but rather the very gradual tug on my heart by God asking me “Why have you taken for granted the opportunities I have given you?”

We met some really, really incredible people all over the world. Some who never went to school, never graduated from high school, never dreamed of attending college, but who had amazing, fulfilling, beautiful, life-giving lives. People who dedicated their days to the benefit, the education, the lives of others.

At first, this notion got me fired up about the idea of dropping everything and moving to Rwanda to teach english or The Philippines to serve the least of these; but over time, God helped me see the opportunity we are given to attend school this way…

Jesus doesn’t ever tell us that college is mandatory, it isn’t. But don’t see this as your way out of a college education. Rather, see the idea of a college education, not being designed or created by God, as a very unique opportunity given to you by God to give you worldly “qualification” in a world that doesn’t know or love God.

Say that ten times fast…

Because we are sinners, the world is broken. The only way to help mend the broken parts of the world is to use the salt and light God gives us and Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matt 28:19

Some “nations” are more difficult to get to than others.

You can’t make an impact on a multi million dollar company’s CEO without being “qualified” enough to sit in his or her office.  You can’t throw ideas around with a producer about the next big movie without knowing how to write a script.  You most certainly cannot lead the United States of America without being “qualified” in the eyes of the American people.

College is not meant to be another annoying “step” in life, it is an incredible privilege and God uses this worldly “qualification” to put Jesus followers in the midst of the world’s most influential workplaces.

As crazy as it sounds, by graduating from college, you’re giving God the ability to use you to reach a different kind of unreached people.

And if this didn’t sway you, Dining hall food is pretty good too.

Contact Info:

Facebook: Blair Boring

Instagram: Blizzairrrr

Email: blairboring1@gmail.com

DID YOU KNOW?  

90% OF GAP YEAR STUDENTS RETURN TO COLLEGE THE FOLLOWING YEAR. (AGA NATIONAL ALUMNI SURVEY, 2016)

Welcome to Our New Blog Series, ‘Great Gap Year Myths’

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After eight years of educating hundreds of students and their parents on the concept of a gap year, we continue to bump into the same misconceptions about such a non-traditional post-high school trek.

This series is designed to offer more education towards the most common “Great Gap Year Myths” out there.  I bet you’ve heard them yourself.  Maybe you’ve used one of these myths to defend your position.  Maybe you’ve been stopped in your tracks from pursuing a gap year with some of these curveballs thrown your way.

Follow us in this new blog series as we bring better understanding to the honest questions and concerns about this growing trend in American education.

Gap Year Continues to Grow

As the school year winds down and students are beginning to look at the next steps of their academic life, many are looking at the possibility of taking a gap year.  But the stigma associated with taking a gap year is still real and present in the minds of students and parents.

Will they ever go back to school?
Will they fall behind?
How can we afford it?
No one else is doing this at my school, I’m the WEIRD one.

These are just a few comments we keep hearing when we present the idea of a gap year to students and families around the country.  So let’s answer a few of these concerns with real data.

The notion that a gap year is something that’s on the sideline is just simply not true.  Year on year the gap year industry continues to grow at an average of 20%.  This is a real growth pattern that shows the changing trends in our education system.

Of course several schools like Harvard, Tufts, and Princeton have advocated for gap years for incoming students in the past.  And we’re watching as state schools are coming to the table realizing that gap students are focused, engaged, and bringing a sphere of experience to the table of educational discussion.

Here at the KIVU Gap Year, we’ve quantified nearly 100% of our students that graduate from the program go to attend an institution of higher learning.  Some attend the schools they deferred from the beginning, while others apply for new schools that tailor to their new found passions.   The American Gap Association has also posted their research, finding overall 90% of all gap students go on to higher learning after their experience.

The idea that a gap year is something of a strange deviation from academic life is quite frankly an urban myth not reflected in the actual  numbers.

4b Gap Year Outcomes

The impacts of taking a gap year can’t be overstated.  From personal reflection to finding actual purpose in life, a gap year provides students with a needed break from what our industry calls “academic burn out.”  And you can see it in every high school in America.

Students have been called to memorize and regurgitate information for years.  Learning has become a process of memorization instead of putting concepts together to form new ideas.  Of course this is a stereotypical view of current education, and there are millions of teachers who see education as a place of learning and not memorization; but ask your local average high school student today conceptual questions about your expert field, and you’ll see what I mean.

A Gap Year helps round out a student’s comprehensive life.  It’s a foundation that awakens the passion inside students so they can go on to be productive in their field of study.

One student I spent time with recently was interested in language acquisition.  He had spent years studying spanish in high school and a few semesters in college.  When he actually traveled to a Spanish speaking country, he was overwhelmed.  The language used on the ground with real people in real experiences was entirely different than the countless vocabulary tests he took as a student in the classroom.

Of course the classroom is important to start building a tool box of competency, but if students never have the chance to get their tools in the game, they miss out on what real life looks like.

2a Gap Year Influences

So if you’re on the fence for your next steps in your academic life, just spend a second reviewing the opportunities a gap year can afford you.  This survey was presented in 2015 by the American Gap Association in conjunction with research from Dr. Nina Hoe from Temple University.

There are so many reasons for taking a gap year, and if you notice, one of the smallest circles of reason in the chart above is “Not Admitted to University of Choice”.

A gap year is not a second option to fall back on.  As a matter of fact, as the gap year industry continues to grow, more and more students are finding the added value of taking a gap year for intentional growth purpose.

Here at the KIVU Gap Year, we would encourage you to take a step back from formal academia.  The university isn’t going anywhere.  It will be available for you any time.  But this moment in your life when you have time, resource, and the sense of adventure to explore your career paths; this moment is a fleeting time period.  One year of your life will fly by, and you’ll be glad you took the time to invest in your future.

*All images and surveys are taken from the American Gap Association website where thorough research on the gap year experience continues to grow.

Are All Gap Years Created Equal?

With a rising tide of the number of high school graduates looking to take a gap year, the industry is bulging with opportunities.  There are international travel gap years, employment gap years, intentional development gap years, and of course; the go “backpack Europe” style year away from academia.

As the industry tries to embrace all the new faces in the gap year world, it’s important for clients who take a gap year to understand how to know what product they are actually paying for.

1.  Ask your Gap Year provider how long the actual program is in operational weeks.

We at the KIVU Gap Year are constantly watching the market to see if all gap years provide at least a similar level of quality and service.  In our initial comparisons, one significant difference in the “sticker price” cost of a Gap Year is the number of weeks a student is actually on the program.

For example, you might find a Gap Year priced for $10K, but they only provide an 8 week program.  While another program might cost $20K for a 20 week program.  So on first glance, a student might consider a cheaper Gap Year program but what they actually get is a two month excursion into a companies chosen target point of action.  Programs may also be advertised as 3-months, 8-months, or 9-months in length, but also include holidays and breaks.  For instance, At KIVU, we have a 3 week holiday for Christmas and New Years.  Other programs have spring breaks as well.  Some don’t have any breaks!

So the first point in shopping for a Gap Year is  – Make sure you understand how long the Gap Year is going to give you away from the academy.

2.  How long will you spend traveling?

In our world, it is important for students to travel abroad.  The KIVU Gap Year spends almost four months in various countries around the world providing live in home stays, internship opportunities, and a professionally guided trip to a few of those global bucket list locations.  (For example, we provide a professionally outfitted and guided trip to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro while students are in Africa.)

Some Gap Year’s boast of international travel, but they only spend a week or two overseas site seeing like a tourist.  If that’s your thing – GREAT!  But if you’re looking for a true immersion into a culture that is different from your own, be sure you ask the hard questions about how much time you’ll be overseas, and what is the purpose of the travel.  Make sure you’re getting what you want.

We’ve seen some Gap Year’s price out at $15K and market a certain level of travel that is later an “add-on.”  In other words, the cost of the program is $15K but the international portion will be another $5K if you decide you want to go with the group, leaving your Gap Year tab up near $20K.  See what I did there?  I sold you a $15K product that actually costs $20K for the full experience.  (Kind of like those in app purchases on iTunes games I get so frustrated with.)

Bottom line, ask the hard questions about the total cost for the value you’re getting.

3.  Make sure you’re getting the experience you want.

At the KIVU Gap Year, we started by intentionally differentiating ourselves from the normal schedule of regular academia.  We only have a certain number of hours in classroom setting, so that students have the chance to actually go out and experience the world the way it really is.

Some of our competitors boast of having a Gap program, but spend over 80% of the time during their season sitting in a classroom duplicating exactly what is happening in high school and at the university.

A Gap Year, at least in our mind, is supposed to be a place of exploration.  We want students to see a part of the world different from the one they came from.  We hold a time honored value that a student who couples experience and classroom, will have a better chance understanding some of the complex issues plaguing the world today.  We don’t see the benefit in simply placing students in a classroom so they can continue to regurgitate information.  They’ve got to feel the problems as well as learn them.

Bottom line, ask your Gap Provider how much time they will be spending sitting in a classroom versus going out into the world to learn.

So are all gap years created equal? – Far from it.

Each program has a specific time frame, a specific goal in mind, and a specific way of pricing the program in a way that appeals to the consumer.  At The KIVU Gap Year, we strive to be up front and honest with the real-time costs associated with taking a year to travel the world, log over 900 hours of internship experience, stamp their passport in up to 6 countries, explore some of the world’s most beautiful attractions, and keep our standards of excellence and safety at the top of the game.

If you’re looking for a Gap Year Provider for this fall, or you know someone looking for a Gap Year program, be sure you do your homework.  Not every program is the same in cost or value.

Where Was This When I Was a Kid?

Today marks the seventh consecutive year The KIVU Gap Students have climbed to the top of Africa on Mount Kilimanjaro.  WHAT AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY!!

After several months living both domestically and abroad, the students took time out to experience one of the greatest climbs in the world.  And believe me, this is no easy task.

We’d like to shout out to all our current and former KIVU Gap Year students and just say “We’re SUPER proud of you.”

Last night, I (Andy) had dinner with a new gap year family from Alabama.  We met at a local restaurant to “Get to Know” each other, and answer some of the questions about Gap Year as well as what to expect on their student’s journey starting next fall.

There’s nothing quite like sitting down at a dinner table and learning about a new family and hearing all the reasons why they decided to defer their University acceptance for a year to go on this adventure called the KIVU Gap Year.

As we were talking about all the opportunities to engage in their 900 hour internships over the year, we outlined the family home stays in each country they visit, and gave a brief overview of the quantitative benefits of taking a gap year; the father quietly raised his hand and said, “Where was this when I was a kid?”

And if I’m honest, that’s the exact response I get each time I explain the details of what the KIVU Gap Year holds for students.  Every single time, the conversation starts in this ambiguity of how a gap year can be beneficial for students before they head to college, and by the end of the talk, every single time, I get “Where was this when I was a kid?”

To be clear, the gap year concept is not for everyone.  It’s difficult.  It’s challenging.  It pushes students to places they didn’t know existed.  It forces students to look deep within their own core of understanding.  It awakens a way of looking at the world through experience instead of simply memorizing about regions of the world and taking someone else’s opinion as fact.

But when we take inventory of how the world is spinning today, I can’t think of a better way to engage.

As you, or members of your community, prepare for next year’s academic calendar, I would just ask that you take a second and look at the benefits of a gap year.  There are several different models out there, and for sure there are different price points; but the overall industry is exploding with benefit for students to explore the world and begin their own life long path into knowing who they are, what they’re gifted to do, and how they can make this world a better place.

“Where was this when I was a kid?”

I just smile and say, “Well it’s here now for yours.”