College Prep: Should Your Child Take A Gap Year?

It’s becoming increasingly popular for students to take a year off between high school and college. But is a gap year right for your child?


Linda Connolly, post-high school counselor at New Trier High School in Winnetka, explains the benefits.

“It is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she says. “Students are gaining real-life experience through travel, language immersion, community and conservation service programs, outdoor adventure and professional internships. Colleges value the more focused and mature student entering school after this type of experience.”

So if your rising senior is making noises about taking a gap year, Connolly has provided us with some fascinating options to contemplate.

Student Conservation Association

Perfect for nature-lovers and kids who enjoy the outdoors. Travel through seven states and 18 national parks as a member of the National Park Service Management Team, monitor endangered birds with conservation experts in Hawaii, or give tours of Native American archeology sites along North Dakota’s Knife River—these are just a few of the possibilities.

City Year

This program is tailored specifically for 17- to 24-year-olds. Volunteers are grouped in service teams to work in urban schools as tutors and mentors. They also work with community endeavors such as youth leadership programs and neighborhood revitalization projects.


Searching through this website may take awhile, but the intriguing programs are worth the search. The best part? All of them include a living allowance, healthcare and money toward college.

Alliance Abroad

Options range from rural hospitality work in the Australian Outback to volunteer projects in Costa Rica. Programs are for those seeking life-changing opportunities overseas.

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