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Gap Year: An Eye-Opener for Graduating Students

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Traditionally, college is the next logical step after high school for most of the graduating high school student body. However, a small percentage of these students like Jordan Kalik of Charleston South Carolina take a gap year which is a different route to a higher education. Jordan, who completed high school at Porter-Gaud School in 2010, went to Israel as a participant of the Young Judaea Year Course.

Gap year has also been called by different names such as bridge year, deferred year or even simply as time-off. Gap year is a period when students opt to pursue something first other than schooling such as travel, volunteer work, community service and job internship. Previously, gap year is more popular in Australia and United Kingdom where 10% of their high school graduates take time-off for a year. However, it is recently gaining ground as an alternative choice for graduating students in the United States. Many nonprofit organizations nowadays are offering structured programs such as the Global Gap Program of the organization Project Abroad that has more than a hundred projects at 25 countries worldwide. Students who fashion their gap year programs are responsible for the costs to be incurred. However, organized programs can provide living allowances in exchange for the work that they will be performing. For Jordan’s mother, Ivy Kalik, she would never send her daughter to a program that is not structured.

Writing in her emotion-filled college application essay, Jordan stated that it is the most difficult decision that he has ever made. Not being exposed to a Jewish culture in South Carolina, Jordan is learned the Jewish way of life first hand. Jordan stated in her essay that the gap year had helped her grow and change as a person by learning more about herself and her surroundings, becoming independent-minded, and gaining lifetime friendships. For Jordan, the gap year has given her the irreplaceable skills and experiences for the rest of her life which cannot be acquired in any college.

Jordan lived in an apartment with other roommates who planned their meals and grocery shopping based on the money that they have pooled together. Jordan learned the public transport system in Israel by herself. After assisting an English teacher in a day care center and a high school in Israel, Jordan attended Hebrew classes. The most difficult experienced she had was getting sick in Israel without the care of family and relatives. Jordan had to go to a Jewish doctor for her ear infection and had to get her prescription filled out at a pharmacy where people have a hard time speaking English. However, Jordan got through that ordeal and it was a great accomplishment for her.

Amanda Murrell, Ashley Hall School college counselor, wishes that more students could take a gap year because she thinks that it is very beneficial to them especially those who are not yet ready for college and those who are not yet clear with their career interest and options. In this regard, many colleges and universities are now supporting the gap year for admitted freshmen. For instance, Princeton University, Harvard and MIT have encouraged students to take time off and even recommended it in the acceptance letters. To take a gap year, Murrell suggested that high school seniors go through the normal admissions process and get accepted into a college of his or her preference. The student then makes the request formally for the time-off. Most colleges are amenable to such request since the gap year will give the students a new perspective in life.

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