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Why Choose A Gap Year?
A gap year is a time-out from academic studies or a career, taken by a student after school or studies. It is important to note that although this is time away from academic studie
Published on July 03, 2024
In Gap Year
Written by Rowena Van Schalkwyk
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A gap year is a time-out from academic studies or a career, taken by a student after school or studies. It is important to note that although this is time away from academic studies, it is not a time away from learning.

A well-structured gap year program is an opportunity for a young person to learn more about themselves, gain confidence, step out of their comfort zone and ultimately help them find their path, both personally and professionally. From our experience at the Warriors Academy, the real benefit of a structured gap year is the development of a student’s emotional maturity and their ability to adapt and deal with challenges.

A gap year should focus on helping students develop their mental and emotional strength to cope with their studies, future career and life in general. Students need to have the confidence to take responsibility and accountability for their actions and thoughts, and this is something that needs to be developed and built on.

With many gap year programs available on the market, what should parents be looking for?   

There are many benefits to taking a gap year, but these benefits are primarily a result of the programs chosen. There are thousands of gap year programs available in South Africa and abroad with many different outcomes. As a gap year service provider, we would suggest that parents look at the following checklist:

  • A structured program – look for a structured program that balances activities, travel, personal coaching and development. This kind of program will provide students with structure while slowly encouraging them to gain more independence. A structured program allows students to still have fun but be monitored and guided into making better decisions.
  • An accredited program – it is essential to look for a program that is accredited. This will give you peace of mind, knowing your child is on a program that has been assessed, approved and is being governed by a set of standards. For example, the Warriors Academy program is accredited by the International Gap Year Association.
  • Experiential learning focus – look for a program that focuses on experiential learning. We specifically use adventure activities to show students how to combine theory with the practical. The activities range from animal encounters, kloofing, mountain biking, water rafting, bungee jumping, courses on self-care, entrepreneurship, how to build your personal brand etc. Each activity challenges the students to overcome an obstacle, problem solve, work as a team, stand up as a leader etc. which are all the skills they will need in both their professional and personal lives.
  • Knowledge and experienced team – investigate the team that is running the program, who they are, what their qualifications are and their experience. This is the team that will be guiding your child over a full year so enquire about how long they have been around, what their skill set is etc. As a parent, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.

A gap year, when structured towards personal growth and development, can prove to be incredibly beneficial in equipping students with the skills needed to succeed in university and their careers. By taking the time to develop emotional maturity, problem-solving abilities, self-efficacy, independence and accountability, students will be able to better tackle their university studies and any challenges that come their way. This will not only reduce the dropout rate in universities but also give students the time necessary to find direction and study something they are passionate about and to succeed.

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