How to Stay Academically on Track During a Gap Year

Counselor Resources

Regardless of what your student wants to get out of their gap year, the ultimate goal for most students taking a year off after high school is to complete a degree. Having a personalized learning plan during the gap year can keep their study skills sharp, show colleges that they are proactive learners, and also allow the student to knock out some requirements more affordably.

Check with the college

If your student has been accepted to and been given a financial aid package for their desired college, have them check with their admissions counselor to review any additional information around the financial aid. This will help your student know how much they need to save. This will also help them see how completing a few courses during their gap year can cut down on the costs.

One of the biggest issues with transfer credit is the student having credits that don’t apply to their actual major. Students who take a lot of different courses to find out what interests them may find that some of them won’t transfer, or they will have more electives than what is required by their degree program. If your student knows what they want to study in college, have them look at the sequence guide or learning track to identify courses they can take over the gap year that are required for that major.

Encourage the student to avoid courses directly in line with their desired major, though, because many schools will want students to take foundational courses from that college. If a student wants to major in computer engineering, for example, encourage them to take a language or communication requirement during their gap year and leave Introduction to Information Technology for later.

Do a skills check

Yes, your students passed Algebra II in high school. But are they ready for College Algebra in college? As part of their learning plan, help your students work through a skills check to see if they still remember the important elements so they can be successful once they get back into a formal learning environment. Did they struggle with a course or need a little extra help? Using some of their time during their gap year, while pursuing other goals, your student can brush up on those skills or even take an online course for credit to get it out of the way. Need some resources for online courses? Check out TEL’s Courses On Demand options.

Create a study calendar

Just like when finals roll around, creating a study calendar can help your students stay on track. If they are taking a gap year, help them build a learning plan and calendar that outlines their academic goals so they can be successful in their transition to college. From building a simple calendar in Google Sheets or Airtable to guiding them on a more robust time management tool, help them set deadlines for the skills they want to build, courses they want to take, and check-ins with you.

A gap year can be a great way for a student to build valuable life experience before they go to college. It can also be a great time for them to progress academically at the same time. Guide your student to create a learning plan that helps them stay on track and possibly even knock out a few requirements, giving them an extra head start on their college career.

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