Taking a "Gap Year"

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Adrien
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Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Adrien » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:43 pm UTC

So my SATs were fairly bad, and I started my college season a little late, making it so I cannot retake the SATs in time to have them attached to my College Application. My plan now is to take next year off and spend this next semester working really hard on studying and bringing up my SAT scores so when I reapply next year my application will be more impressive. I've double checked and done all my research to ensure this wont hurt my college application and apparently it shouldn't (In fact, several of the "Top" colleges recommend it).

I did have a few questions though -
What should I... Do during my "Gap year"? I know I want to travel and use the time to learn languages (I've already learned Spanish, and I'm diving head first into Mandarin Chinese), however, I'm curious what will actually help me in college? Can I take AP tests when no longer in High School?

I'm mostly just curious what to do during my gap year so that college isn't so rough on me the following year.

keeperofdakeys
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby keeperofdakeys » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:55 pm UTC

probably getting a job would be the best use of a gap year

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Pistols327
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Pistols327 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:33 am UTC

I have been considring the same thing for myself. The only thing i would say is that whatever field your gonna go into in college you should make sure you stay current in it.... that and youll be poor college kid soon so a job sounds good to

Peon
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Peon » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:00 pm UTC

If you're really intent on doing this, then all I can recommend is that you stay as focused as possible on what your educational goals are, because the longer you're going to stay out of school, the harder it will be to come back to school. It's easy to just get a job and stick with that for the rest of your life.


Instead, I would consider looking in to attending a local community college and then transferring to a university at some point in the future -- your SAT scores won't matter there and you'll still be furthering your education.

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Bakemaster
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:23 am UTC

Peon wrote:If you're really intent on doing this, then all I can recommend is that you stay as focused as possible on what your educational goals are, because the longer you're going to stay out of school, the harder it will be to come back to school. It's easy to just get a job and stick with that for the rest of your life.

My experience has been the opposite. Nothing made me want to go back to school quite like spending a couple years in the working world.
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TMBFY
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby TMBFY » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:20 pm UTC

I say that instead of taking a "gap year" go into community college and take a light load of classes there for a year instead. The work will make sure that you keep up on your studies (at least on a basic level), and colleges will like the fact that you didn't "waste a year" (their words, not mine). That also gives you the benefit of applying to colleges with a totally new and (hopefully) improved GPA!
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Bakemaster
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:06 am UTC

On the other hand, transfer admission is a far more limiting process in general than freshman admission. Taking just one semester at a community college, or in many cases even a single class, will prevent you from being able to apply to schools that only accept upper division transfers, until you've finished two years' worth of credits elsewhere. I know, it might seem a little odd that they'll let you apply as a freshman if you "waste" a year but won't let you apply at all if you take a year of classes... But that's the way some schools work.

Additionally, there are tons of ways to use your gap year that won't be seen as "wasted". Even spending it traveling is often seen as taking an opportunity to expand your horizons, and something that makes you a better candidate for a higher level of study than secondary school alone did. But if you don't travel, and you don't volunteer, or explore an internship, or find work related to the field you want to study, or do anything more productive than just work a job and live independently for the first time... Well, as beneficial as independence often is to a young person, and as much as it can improve their readiness for school, it's not really seen as productive. It doesn't take much to turn it into something productive; you could volunteer just one day a week, even. But by itself, or with a few community college elective/101 courses sprinkled in, it's likely to weaken your application.
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xMango
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby xMango » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:22 pm UTC

keeperofdakeys wrote:probably getting a job would be the best use of a gap year

Just be certain that you do not fall into the group of 99% of potential college students and never go back, but work that same job for the rest of your life.
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KestrelLowing
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby KestrelLowing » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:35 pm UTC

A "gap year" is very common in many European countries, but I have hardly heard of one in the US. As I'm American, I assume you are too, please correct me if I'm wrong.

American culture tends not to look very favorably upon a gap year. The 'American Dream' is to become rich, so you have to start work asap, therefore you have to start school asap. So just be aware, if you take a year off, you're going to have to explain it.

With that in mind, I think that taking a year off could be a good thing. I don't think you can take AP tests when you're not in high school, but I do think that you should definitely try to take some classes at a community college, perhaps while finding a part time job. Not exactly the most amazing thing ever, but the sensible option.

If you have the finances, you could go overseas. Many colleges look favorably upon foreign experience, and it would make you stand out from the crowd, even if your grades were not amazing. I would try to do a more academic-type stay instead of simply a tourist-y one.

Just taking off a year and doing not much of anything but retaking tests is probably a very bad option though.

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Kow
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Kow » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:44 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:
Peon wrote:If you're really intent on doing this, then all I can recommend is that you stay as focused as possible on what your educational goals are, because the longer you're going to stay out of school, the harder it will be to come back to school. It's easy to just get a job and stick with that for the rest of your life.

My experience has been the opposite. Nothing made me want to go back to school quite like spending a couple years in the working world.

QFT. I took a year off (half of it was at community college where I discovered that it's just like high school -.- ). I couldn't wait to get back to school after working 2 jobs for nearly a year.
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Andromeda321
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Re: Taking a "Gap Year"

Postby Andromeda321 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

DO IT!

I took off six months between undergrad and grad school to travel solo around the world, and it was the best decision I ever made. :D And it's a very common thing to do in the UK right after school actually- work for six months saving your funds, then go travel to typically cheaper places (in South East Asia, for example, you can get by on US$1000/month easy, or get a working holiday visa for Australia or New Zealand so you can supplement your income while traveling). A very common thing to do even for kids not from wealthy families, and you learn so much more about yourself and your goals in life.


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