This growing interest in the ‘gap year,’ often the year between high school and college, though not always, comes with a wide variety benefits in addition to doing something different from all your peers. Gap year benefits go far beyond college GPAs and a long ‘countries-visited’ list.
Gap years can help students gain admission into better schools. After an unsatisfying admissions cycle while still in high school, one of our recent graduates, Alex, managed to get into the program of his dreams at Columbia University, studying social sciences and international development in Paris and New York as part of a Dual BA program with SciencesPo.
“I knew straight out of the water. I was pretty unhappy with it.”
With mentoring, coaching, and advising from the Field Advisors during the application process, Alex was able to retake his ACTs and re-write his application essays within the new context of his travel experiences — all while maintaining the rigorous pace of the Winterline 9-month Global Skills Program.
Gap years help students figure out what they’re passionate about. They help develop career skills, discover purpose, increase maturity, focus, global awareness, and self awareness. Most students not only return to college, but return with greater zeal and ambition than before having a deeper appreciation for college and higher education within the greater context of society.
“I think Winterline gave me skills that are alternate, in a different world, to help me see my academics in a more worldly perspective.”
“The Winterline gap year offers a different practice of knowledge, not necessarily academia,” Alex said. “It’s helped me become more appreciative of the impacts of my academics, looking beyond shooting for a score, but instead looking at its impact on myself, on my knowledge, and what I can do with it.
When asked when he knew that going to the college he’d been accepted to was the wrong choice, Alex replied, “I knew straight out of the water. I was pretty unhappy with it. It was part of my motivation for the gap year, though not all of it. I had set expectations based on input from counselors and it didn’t end how people predicted, because of my boards. I wanted to change that. I wanted something that would fit me a little bit more, because I was unhappy with where I was set at that moment.
“I am more relaxed having had that year.”
“So I changed for something that was just more me, I guess, and I think I found the program that linked what I was doing before Winterline, with what I’m doing in college now.
“It was on me for wanting to change where I wanted to go, how I wanted to go about it and do it. With Winterline, I learned the value of focusing on my stress level, of becoming more appreciative of the impacts of my academics. It’s not about necessarily shooting for a score, but instead looking at its impact on myself, my knowledge, what I could do with it.
Alex continued, “Now I’m doing a Dual BA in social sciences. The first two years I get to do general study. The last two I’m at Columbia University in New York, where I’ll declare a major. Right now I’m taking courses like Constitutional Law, Econ, History, Social Studies, Political Theory. I’m taking classes with Piketti, the history lecturer (brother of the famous French economist).
“For me, the gap year was an essential element in which I approached everything about school. I’m more relaxed in my approach to papers, college essays, the tests themselves, interviews. I’m not phased by it. It’s a different way of connecting the academic stuff to the real world. I now know techniques that reduce stress, and I am more relaxed having had that year.”