Many of us as parents of young people approaching college years already have a number of regrets about missed opportunities and mistakes we've made as we've raised our children. As conscientious parents, many of us worry about the longer-term impact of our shortcomings. If we're practicing self-compassion, we tell ourselves that overall we did the best we could in the given circumstances. But we still worry about our children's future, and will no doubt continue to do so for many years to come.
We know that the end of the high school period is a crucial juncture for most students; there's so much going on - socially, intellectually, biologically, spiritually - and there are so many choices to be made.
I guess when we look further into the future and imagine our children, say age 40, perhaps with a young family of their own, we have a deep desire to see them living contented, well-balanced, low-stress healthy lives as they carry out meaningful work on a journey of self-realization. I believe the gap year - carefully designed - makes a strong contribution to making such a future more likely.
As parents we're not always best placed to have impactful dialogue with our high schoolers. It can be really hard work. To some extent we rely on outsiders - sports coaches, private tutors, pastors - to provide mentorship and support, but these extra-curricular activities often take place against a backdrop of a heavy academic workload and can be the source of extra pressures in themselves.
Working with an external gap year consultant on a project rooted in freedom of choice brings a rush of fresh air and an exciting dynamic into a young person's life.
A gap year experience
The gap year I propose to co-design is a challenging year of growth - certainly not a "year off". My interest is not in the "volunteer in Africa" style of gap year (that can be a wonderful experience, and just the right thing for some) but rather in a multifaceted year - a rich tapestry of varied but complementary experiences including paid employment, volunteer work, online learning, travel and adventure, and the development of a specific skill or talent. Everyone's different - there's no right way and no one-size-fits-all - so it's important to plan this precious time carefully.
These experiences don't need to cost the earth. With restricted travel and social distancing, the 2020/21 gap year will turn out for many to be a very affordable option. An example would be a year encompassing: an online internship "in France", a distance education program leading to certification in digital marketing, volunteering at a local food bank, and a personalized program of activities for cognitive (memory, speed reading) and physical development (nutrition and exercise). This can be done while living at the parental home or with a relative, with a "plan B" in place for a shorter period of overseas travel if this becomes feasible and desirable during the course of the year.
The gap year experience is perfect for both college-bound students and for those wishing to take stock before pursuing more vocational training. Research shows that 90% of gap year takers return to college within a year and out-perform their peers by 0.1 to 0.4 on a 4.0 GPA scale. But more importantly, there is solid research pointing to numerous mental health benefits including increased resilience and sense of purpose and direction.
Let me join your team
Aside from my qualifications and experience as a teacher, mentor, and college admissions counselor, I draw on my own life experience as someone who dropped out (from a prestigious university) and struggled to find my way. In my own case this led to serious consequences, before I finally got back on the road of personal growth, to lead what I consider to be a very successful life. With each young client I encounter, I consider myself entrusted with the sacred mission of helping them lay solid foundations for their decade-long transition into adulthood, so that they survive and thrive, whatever comes their way.
A complete gap year package
At the moment I'm offering a full package of gap year services, from initial planning right through to the showcasing of the outcomes at the end of the year.
- Full planning including initial assessment, budgeting, extensive research to identify programs, design and planning of the year, a 10-hour retainer for online/telephone planning meetings, unlimited emailing + full support throughout the gap year itself (Value: $2000)
- Coaching program during the gap year: Beyond the standard "on the ground" support I offer during the gap year period, this is a life and academic coaching program which ensures that the student optimizes the gap year experience by maintaining balance and staying on track for the achievement of goals. The online sessions take place fortnightly for the first three months and monthly thereafter (Value: $900)
- Showcasing: Tutoring and advising for the production of an online portfolio of skills and experience + resume + LinkedIn profile (Value: $450)