The mission of the American Gap Association is to encourage and assist young people from every segment of the U. S. population to have meaningful and safe experiences, especially during the period between high school and the next phase of their lives. This is called a Gap Year, but it can also be a semester or a summer.
After 12 years of sitting in classrooms, many students are not ready for the academic and social challenges of college and the job world; 30-50% of students drop out of college. An interim Gap Year experience provides experiential education beyond the classroom, free from the competitive pressure of grades and the college admissions process. Returning Gappers are more focused, confident, and flexible; and they have developed an international perspective so crucial in today’s global economy.
LGG is encouraging leadership-building through experience, value-development through immersion, and understanding and respect through international interaction. Many high school and college exchange programs and organizations share our vision and serve the cause of “citizen diplomacy.” Our shared message needs to be broadcast widely.
We live in a global economy, but only about 30% of Americans have passports, and only 15% travel beyond the North American continent. The top 500 U.S. companies earn half of their total revenues in foreign markets. To continue as a world leader, the U.S. needs a work force that has experienced the world and learned to respect cultural differences.
Unfortunately, most high school students and their parents have never heard of a Gap Year and fear of the unknown and worry about cost will be major obstacles. Another concern is the perception that students will fall behind their peers by starting college a semester or a year later. Increasingly, evidence shows that a gap program might actually decrease the cost of college and assist in finding a great job.
Out of these clear needs, the American Gap Association was formed to promote Gap Year in the United States. A key component of our program is this website, a central online clearing house that informs student participants, their parents, educators, and communities about the Gap Year option….all the tools are here to give you the information you need to make intelligent decisions regarding How to Plan a Gap Year, Talking with Parents, Gap Year Programs, Raising the Money, and College Deferrals.
We suggest that college-bound seniors apply to college, get accepted, and then ask for a deferral. Most colleges will grant deferrals, and high schools will not lose the “credit” for getting their graduates into colleges. We’re also encouraging Gappers to do service programs, get involved in research, go to school, work, create journals, design art, music, photography, and theater programs while living with host families…get the most out of learning in another culture.
Many programs already exist and we anticipate that there will be more as demand grows. The American Gap Association is working hard to accredit these organizations using its Standards that run more structured programs, and to develop partnerships with other organizations for those more independent Gappers. We know that most Gappers will need to work and raise money to contribute to their trip and to that end the American Gap Association has built a fairly comprehensive list of scholarships available to Gap Year students available here.