The idea that a Gap Year will add to a student’s tenure at institutional academy is just false. The facts are there. Our industry has done the research, and we’ve found some interesting new statistics that will help you decide if a Gap Year is right for you.
Join Luke and Andy on this week’s KIVU Gap Year Podcast, and listen to this new cutting edge research.
What if a Gap Year actually had the added benefit of changing the neuro pathways in your brain?
That’s right. New science is coming out showing that extensive travel and experience can literally change the way your synapses are connected.
In a recent Atlantic Article neurologists talk about the importance of travel immersion as it relates to creative “neuro-plasticity.”
“In general, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
Another article in the Guardian gives a similar benefit.
Traveling and living abroad can also affect the way we interact with people. Research by Dr Julia Zimmermann and Dr Franz Neyer compared the personality development of a large sample of German university students who had studied abroad for at least one semester with a non-travelling group.
The results showed that those who studied abroad were generally higher in extraversion than those who chose not to travel during their studies: the travellers were likely to enjoy being around other people more than being alone. When they returned home after travelling, the participants also tended to show an increase in openness to new experiences, agreeableness and emotional stability.
As we travel to explain the Gap Year concept, we find students understand the idea pretty quickly. They have an un-tapped wanderlust they want to experience. They understand academic burn out. They know they want to explore the world in new ways.
But sometimes Parents have important questions for this relatively “new” industry.
In this week’s podcast, Andy Braner tries to answer the top three questions we get here at the KIVU Gap Year from Parents
How is there such diversity among Gap Year costs?
Is a Gap Year Safe?
Will my student go back to College after returning from a Gap Year?
Feel free to listen in on some important answers here on the podcast. OR, you can stay up to date on all The KIVU Gap Year podcasts by subscribing on iTunes.
On our third podcast episode, Andy Braner talks about the reason for a Gap Year, and what makes the KIVU Gap Year stand out.
Today’s Students are struggling with vision, skill set, and comprehensive view of how to get their hands and feet dirty in almost every industry. The Gap Year concept gives students the opportunity to choose internships on a variety of levels to develop an depth of experience.
Talk to any employer about hiring recent college graduates, and you’ll hear how difficult it is to teach and train academics with diplomas to migrate into the job market. The Gap Year gives students a way to experience their vocational dreams, attend a higher institution of learning, and then focus on what it means to be a part of the industry of choice.
Take a few minutes and listen to Andy’s explanation of how The KIVU Gap Year is addressing the problems we’re seeing in student growth, both internally and in the job market.
The KIVU Gap Year is one of the only international faith Gap Years acredited by the American Gap Association. (AGA) We often get questions about the faith DNA we help our students to think about, and we feel it’s important to distinguish between a “Christian” Gap Year, and a Gap Year that helps students understand how to own their own faith.
Our statement of faith is simple – It’s all about Jesus.
We invite students with all sorts of faith backgrounds to explore what it means to understand the principles and teachings of Jesus. We don’t focus on any specific theology or doctrine. We’re not a specific denominational Gap Year. We’ve had atheists, agnostics, protestants, catholics, and all those in between join us on the journey around the world.
Our main focus is found in the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was asked, ‘Jesus what is the greatest commandment?’ and he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (22:37-40)
Our main goal is to help students that are interested in faith, to see the main commandment of Loving God and Loving Others. Jesus says, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In our second Podcast Episode, you’ll hear Andy Braner and Luke Parrott talk about what it means to execute an organization that relies on Loving God and Loving Others. Mainly, we want students to find Freedom in Faith.
You can listen to the discussion here, or you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes under The KIVU Gap Year.
We’ve decided to enter the world of Podcasting here at The KIVU Gap Year. As Podcasts have taken off in the last year or so, we are hearing from people around the country how important it would be to have a short 20-30 minute Podcast with interviews from our staff, our students, and various global leaders who interact with The KIVU Gap Year.
So … here it is.
Our first touch into the podcast world is a conversation with Luke Parrott and Andy Braner. We tried to explain where KIVU started, what questions we’re trying to answer, and how important the Gap Year concept is to students today.
We hope this will be a place where you can find your questions answered, and if you don’t see the questions you have; feel free to contact us here, on our Facebook page, or in the comments on our Podcast on iTunes.
Thanks again for all your support. We are excited to usher in a new way of thinking about education and global travel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
While searching for a Gap Year, it can be kind of like walking into a huge department store trying to find a specific item for your home. There’s so many places to look, so many differences to set different gap years apart, and whose to say you’re going to have the “right” program for your student?
At The KIVU Gap Year, we try to help our parents and students understand some of the differences we hold in our value system to prepare emerging adults to enter University.
Four CRITICAL QUESTIONS IN OUR PROGRAM AS EMERGING YOUNG ADULTS.
1. Personal Identity: Who Am I? – We give you the tools and experiences to encourage the development of your personal identity.
The old way of talking about Who am I was to say a student would go and “find themselves.” And many academic circles tried to minimalize this experiencing often citing the need for students to just jump into life straight from high school and they will figure it out.
But after 20 years of working with young adults, we’re finding some interesting generational differences in today’s young person.
a.) After University, work becomes the epicenter of their life. They get lost in the drive for their Vocation, and we see students who are in their late 20’s asking questions about Who they are not necessarily What they do. We’re finding a large group of young adults asking questions we can help them navigate through their higher education which presumably leads to a more fulfilling vocational experience.
b.) We find more and more University graduates unwilling and unable to enter the workforce after their higher education training, and we want to help students achieve the courageous brave life to go out and conquer whatever it is they feel called to do. The problem is: if we just hope students find their way without any help or mentoring, often it takes years to find out who they are and emerge from what they can produce.
2. Faith Ownership: What Do I Believe? – We provide an experience in which you have the space, freedom and opportunity to embrace your faith.
Most Gap Years will fall on two extremes of a paradigm shift. Either they will a.) Bring students into an incubation environment to tell them what to think or they will b.) Leave faith out of the conversation entirely.
We believe a faith journey is one that is individual.
We believe faith is an important part of being a whole person.
We believe experiential faith education is more impactful than sitting in a classroom taking notes, submitting papers, and memorizing various scripture passages.
We believe asking questions will lead a student to their answer.
Because we believe God works in different ways in everyone’s life.
We intentionally give students an environment to explore their faith. They ask good questions. We’re not afraid of any doubts, because we believe on an honest journey students will find their faith way. With qualified staff leading and guiding discussions, we are excited when students graduate to be excited about faith in a global community.
3. Experiential Learning: How Do I Fit In? – We provide an experiential learning environment to counter balance traditional education models.
So many students today are lost in how they connect with the world around them. They’re able to engage online, but interpersonal connection is often difficult. We’ve trained a generation of students to care more about the number of “likes” and “followers” on a social media feed, but we haven’t given them a fertile platform to explore ideas, disagree in a civil way, and engage with people who are different than they are.
Our Emotional Intelligence scale reveals that the KIVU Gap Year can increase the way students engage emotionally by living abroad to the tune of nearly a 30% increase. The EI scale we use to test students is showing our kids able to navigate the traditional education model and still have a sense of fitting into their environment.
4. Civic Engagement: Where Do I Belong? – We provide concrete experiences in understanding domestic and international social issues to encourage you to develop communal identity.
If you ask the question What is the biggest issue with post-secondary students today? You’ll find quickly the answer is I’m Alone.
They don’t know where they connect.
They don’t know who they belong to.
They don’t understand community is something to sacrifice for
They haven’t been given the wide kaleidoscope of global world views to understand themselves.
At The KIVU Gap Year, we are committed to helping students understand how they belong in a wide globalized world, preparing them for Higher Education.
As the world continues to get smaller through our intentional technology revolution, students are going to be hard pressed to connect with different cultures, different world views, and the ability to connect with different thought processes.
There’s little debate concerning the globalization of today’s companies. Most of the top U.S. companies have a footprint of business, education, or at the very least a social impact on different countries around the world.
In today’s Secondary Education climate, very few of our students are being exposed to the ways to form successful small groups where the diversity of culture has to be addressed to actually accomplish a common goal.
On the KIVU Gap Year, we have taken the task of exposing students to various cultures both here in America, and across the world.
Our student shave the chance to stay with local families in foreign countries. Whether they have a stay in Africa, Peru, Bolivia, or the Jordan, students have the chance to learn cultural diversity to give them a chance to understand future potential cultural relationships no matter where they intend on spending their vocational time. Our intent is to help students understand what it means to deal with different expectations dependent on cultural diversity, and we’re actually seeing their worlds get smaller and smaller.
They are able to talk about politics, social differences, and see opportunities to connect America to different parts of the world. This is vital as we see a generation of students whose world continues to shrink as they forge ahead to live and work in places with high degrees of cultural diversity.
Different World Views
It’s safe to say with 7 Billion people on planet earth, there are almost as many different world views students need to learn how to navigate. Values that matter include…
Where they were born
What values were important to their families
What faith components they believe in
What social values are high on the list of their world
Each way our environment speaks into who we are dictates what lens we see the world through. Traditionally, America has a reputation of seeing the world through the lens of the last great super power. So the questions begin to rise quickly to the surface
What is my role in the world as an American Citizen? How do I interact with other countries and how they see the world? What is my role in understanding someone else’s world view, and being able to value my own way of thinking?
As more and more students are leaving home to attend University life, it’s imperative they are able to navigate their own worldview in the confluence of world views they will be exposed to, even right there at home.
Different Social Impact
In America, we have two oceans on either side of our country that insulate much of our thinking from the rest of the world. In Africa, it’s normal to see a high social value given to the family, while our sense of family may vary from region to region.
In the Middle East there are different social norms put on gender, where here in America we strive to create equality the name of the gender game.
In South America, there are certain social ways of interacting with a culture long created by the colonization of the European Catholic societies mixed with the native groups. While here in America, there is an amalgam of cultures all trying to live and work together in a “melting pot” that centers on the question of What does it mean to be American?
As students are exposed to different social norms, we invite them to explore the reasons why societies are different, and how they can integrate in those social groups depending on their circumstances.
All in all, when a student Graduates from the KIVU Gap Year, they are equipped with the tools to help them with Different Global Cultures, Different Global World views, and Different Social implications no matter where they live and work.