New gap year fair opens doors for students

Gap year fairs help students explore their post-secondary options

Gap year fairs help students explore their post-secondary options

Gigi Wade, News Reporter

While some seniors are getting acceptance letters and committing to schools, our schools administration is adding a plan for those who are looking to take a break after high school.

On Jan. 28, New Trier will host the annual northshore Gap Year Fair, an event that provides juniors and seniors with information about alternatives to immediate college enrollment.

“The College and Career Fair is like any ordinary college fair, except that it’s all setup for organizations that support students for gap years and travel opportunities,” College and Career Coordinator Beth Arey said.

According to the self-reported Senior Graduation Study, ETHS has averaged 12 students per year who have taken gap years over the past seven years. Each year, the number of students who express interest grows due to more available information at the school.

“Gap years can be really useful for some,” junior Anika Blitzstein said. “They’re a great idea for people who aren’t ready for college or want to find themselves more.”

Although gap year programs hope to see high participation, they still encourage students to apply to colleges senior year and communicate with the schools about how a gap year could fit into their college path. Procedures for admittance after a gap year varies by school: in some instances, it is necessary to reapply after the year, but other colleges will hold places for teens who are travelling in between education.

“It’s important to remind students that they have opportunities outside of going straight to college,” Arey said. “If they are independent and interested in travel, I’d recommend looking into a gap year.”

American Field Services (AFS) is one program that the ETHS website highlights. AFS focuses on finding locations for students to spend the year; some popular locations are Thailand, Australia and Malaysia. While a majority of gap years are spent abroad, in exotic locations handpicked by the student, some people opt to spend theirs in the United States.

For some graduates, the simple cost of a gap year is prohibitive.

“Gap years that involve unpaid internships or world travel cost a ton, and most students just don’t have that kind of money,” senior Alec Jacobson said. “Other gap years options, though, such as paid work, could be more feasible.”

Even though paid internships abroad are not the most common type of gap year, they are appealing to some due to their monetary bonus. Many students believe that gap years in general seem like a far cheaper alternative to college.

“Cost of college is definitely a reason for why people take gap years,” senior James Ogunbola said. “Overall, we’ve been in the school system for so long; some people just need a break.”

ETHS works hard to accommodate the needs of all students, not just those who are interested in college. The Gap Year Fair is the first place to look for information.