As High School has ramped up across the country, one time honored system is machining right along.  Each year Seniors across our nation are being pressed to start filling out college applications, and counselors are helping students pick the right schools for their future.  Scholarship Dollars, Academic Opportunities, and College Lifestyle, are all in the mix for a student’s decision.  But one thing we all need to be concerned with is the product we’re all receiving from our institutions of higher learning.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length, you know I am engaged with a new style of entering the University.  I work with a group called The KIVU Gap Year, a nine month international gap year helping to prepare students for their time at the University.  We’ve taking long strides at our organization to provide families and students with a year of intense global observation, while helping students understand their gifts and talents before the clock starts ticking on their academic timeline.

While you or your student is laboring over those college applications, I would invite you to consider an alternative way to looking at the future.  Here are the Top 3 reasons I think it’s important to consider this valuable time after the your senior year.

1.  The most notable Universities are encouraging students to take a Gap Year

For years, Harvard has been encouraging their incoming Freshman to take a Gap Year.  Considered one of the leading institutions in the world, Harvard even helps students navigate a Gap Year on their Website.  (CLICK HERE FOR THE HARVARD SITE) Recognizing the pressure of High School today, the experts at Harvard have recommended students take a breather from University life and explore the world.

Some might think this simply a “time out,” from real life, but actually it’s just the opposite.  A Gap Year is actually a “time in” to stop regurgitating data for a specific test, and learn what it means to engage in the world around you.  Gap Year students have higher grades in college, higher emotional IQ, and higher cultural awareness in situations where they are being asked to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems.

Americans often see a Gap Year as a time for students to go out and party, and many Gap Years do end up fulfilling that prejudice.  But those of us accredited by the American Gap Association are taking this time serious.  We are working to provide a “best in class” opportunity for students who are actually willing to engage in real leadership in their fields of study.

2.  A Gap Year gives students time to know who they are, not simply what they do

I often use the old adage, “We’re called human beings, not human doings.” But unfortunately, our culture is more likely to be interested in what we have accomplished than who we actually are.  As I travel to high schools all across this country, the story is more the same than different.  More often than not, I watch as administrations are concerned with the numbers of kids who score high on ACT and SAT tests, get admitted to prominent institutions, and classify students on a numbers scale, rather than who each students is created to be.

In our world, we’ve asked 17-18 year olds to actually decide what profession they want before they have any experience in that profession.  We’re spending billions of dollars for students to go off to institutions based on our quantifiers rather than on what each student is designed to be.

If you’re considering a Gap Year, I would highly recommend you search for a program that has a high level of integrity knowing how to relate to students needs.  As Gap Years pop up all over the country, be careful you are sure about what you’re getting into.  Many Gap Years simply focus on program, while those who are going to be successful are focused on each student and their desires for the future.  After all, don’t we want to give our future leaders the opportunity to vet issues and principles before they reach the mid-life of their careers?

I’ve interviewed hundreds of 50 year old leaders who have consistent regrets about their professional lives.  They feel even though they are successful in their industry, they’ve missed that “thing” that gives them a fiery view of life.  A Gap Year can help students discover their passion while helping them navigate the necessary educational requirements for them to reach those goals and passions.

3.  American students need to be exposed to the world, not isolated from it

Many critics of a Gap Year are concerned those of us in the Gap Industry don’t spend enough time working with students to take care of their interest in the homeland.  And that simply isn’t true.  At The KIVU Gap Year, we spend an entire semester helping students see how they can engage in American cities, but that’s just the beginning.

In an economic world where everything we do is tied to someone else in the world, students need real exposure to people of other cultures, countries that operate on different principles, and values they can know when dealing with people who are different than they are.  We can imagine a world where America is isolated from the world, but in a new wave of economic freedom, the future leaders of the world are going to be able to navigate difficult cultural norms from all over the globe.

Our second semester is filled with travel to South America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.  Our students are able to sit in the classrooms at the University and know from firsthand experience how history AND current events effect governments, trade deals, and opportunities they can engage with to fulfill their gifts and passions.

Overall, I would suggest if you’re looking at a Gap Year for your future, take time!  Investigate!  Ask Questions! Be sure you’re going to receive a high level of care and personal attention!  And of course, if you’d like to see what we’re doing, you can just click over to our site at

I hope you have all the information you need to make an informed decision for the year you spend out of high school.  And until then…keep learning.

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