Learning that your teen wants to take a gap year after high school can be hard to swallow. We dream of our kids graduating and furthering their education either in college or trade school. But sometimes, a gap year is the best decision. Many kids who go to college when they’re not quite ready run the risk of dropping out.

My friend’s son wanted to take a gap year. He asked him, “What do you plan to do during that year?” The son replied he wanted to go live with his brother in Colorado. My friend then asked a series of questions like, “How will you spend your time?” and, “How will you get there?” His son had no firm answers.

I also met a mom whose son is a junior in college. Like many college students, he realized he didn’t like his chosen major and now doesn’t know what he wants to do. Her son is considering taking a gap year to figure things out. 

Hearing more kids talk about doing this, I started thinking, what does a gap year look like? Does a teen see it as a year to goof off and put off the inevitable of having to go to college or technical school?

The Gap Year Association defines a gap year as “A semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and before career or post-secondary education, to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.”

According to Hagler and Nelson, authors of The Gap Year Advantage, there are two main reasons why kids say they want a gap year:

  • Burnout from the competitive pressure of high school
  • Desire to find out more about themselves

What should you do if your teen wants to take a gap year?

Have a conversation – try to find out the underlying reasons why your teen wants to take a gap year. Here are some possible scenarios I have found while working with my clients:

  • The thought of going to a big school is overwhelming
  • They are scared because their friends have chosen a future path while they still have no idea
  • They fear they will apply to colleges and not get accepted into any of them
  • They have anxiety about choosing a career and don’t know what options are suitable for them

Once you have identified the underlying reasons, you can create a better action plan for your teen’s future.

Would you like to talk to someone about how to help your teen? Schedule a complimentary College Assessment Call with me here. I would be happy to help you determine the best plan of action.