Mind the gap: Fair will explore exciting options for grads

Gap Year Fair is Jan. 29 at Skyline High School

John Boshoven
John Boshoven

If your high school senior is less than thrilled at the thought of heading off for college next fall, you might want to bring him or her to the 2015 Gap Year Fair on Jan. 29 at Skyline.

It could open up exciting options you may never have considered.

Just don’t think of it as a year off.

“It’s time for a year on!” says John Boshoven, Counseling Department Chair for the Ann Arbor Public Schools and a counselor at Community High. “I choose to see the gap year as a year doing something you can’t wait to do, rather than a year off to veg on the couch and grow tubers.”

USA Gap Year Fairs is a national circuit of events that bring together Gap Year organizations, interested students and parents, high school college counselors and the gap year experts.

These events give students a broad exposure of Gap Year programs and the opportunity for face-to-face conversations with the people who work in the field, and connect with organizations that focus on education, service and personal growth.

There is also a question and answer session with each speaker so that interested students and parents can learn about the entire gap year process; from applications, to deferring freshman year, to re-entering college when they return.

“For the right student, it’s the right thing,” says Boshoven. “It can be life-changing, healing, inspirational, and educational all at the same time.”

Asked to describe a student who would especially benefit by this gap year, Boshoven said it could be someone who is fried after their frenetic high school work; who may have dragged through senior year with little energy or verve, with declining grades and many distractions.

“This kid barely made it through high school and either needs to do something more energizing or interesting, get substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, or college counseling that will help him discover a very different college experience than high school,” he says. “Often these kids need more hands-on, adventuring, practical, skills-oriented or plain different next experiences.”

It’s also a great chance for kids who are passionate about doing something they’ve always wanted to do that doesn’t involve locker, lectures and labor, whether that’s immersion in a foreign language, an adventure, travel, a life call mission or service itch, he says.

“This kid wants to change the world or discover it for the first time,” he says.

Though some parents worry that their child will never go to college after taking a gap, Boshoven says statistics prove otherwise.

Up to 10 percent of seniors take a break the year after high school, he estimates, and about half of them are involved in a specific program, he says.

And what about the cost?

“It can be very expensive, or virtually free,” says Boshoven. “Semester at Sea can cost $20,000-plus, while CityYear can be free, and everything in between.”

He says it’s a good investment if the alternative is wasting $40,000 at a college the student isn’t ready for or motivated to make the most of.

The popularity of gap year is growing at an exponential rate in the United States, and it is promoted at some of the most prestigious universities including Harvard, Princeton, Tufts and New York University, says Kathy Cheng, director of USA Gap Year Fairs.

“Not every 18-year-old is ready for college, and students who participate in gap year programs obtain increased focus, maturity, and motivation which allows them to be more successful when they do decide to enter college,” Cheng added.

Skyline High School is Michigan’s only 2015 location for the Gap Year Fair. It will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29 at Skyline.

“We’re excited to present this fair again to our community since so many students benefit from taking time from a busy high school career before going off to college,” says Boshoven. “A gap year can be enriching, meaningful and can help students be more focused when they finally arrive at college.”

If you have any questions, call Boshoven at 734-994-2027 or go to usagapyearfairs.org.


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