When I first brought up the idea of a gap year to my mom, she wasn’t completely on board. To her defense, her doubt had merit. I originally suggested a trip backpacking across Europe all year. Alone. In hindsight, I’m not sure what I was thinking… She wasn’t thrilled by that idea, but both my parents were still very open to the concept of me taking a “gap year.” I was burnt out from high school, and I needed a change in perspective. As I continued to research gap year ideas and programs, I came across Winterline. When I discussed the program with both my parents, they were thrilled for me and encouraged me to apply and enroll.
What made them love Winterline so much? Well, my mom actually just did an interview, which you can find here. She was encouraged by a parent of a former Winterline student because of her amazing testimonial. As for my dad? He was on board the minute I mentioned that NOLS was a partner organization with Winterline. When he was my age, he did a NOLS course in Alaska and loved it. Both my parents also spent a lot of time traveling when they were younger. My mom spent a year in Germany for college, and was an au pair in France for a summer. My dad went to the American College in Paris for a semester, which also enabled him to travel across Europe on a Eurail pass. He also spent some time in Central America for a mountaineering trip. So, the next step for us? Discussing the cost of the program.
Winterline is not an inexpensive program… and it shouldn’t be for what it offers! Given the incredible partner organizations, number of countries in the itinerary, and length of the trip, the cost makes sense. I compare it to the cost of two semesters at a private college in the US. However, it is a lot for most families. My parents were very generous in paying for my gap year with Winterline. They saw it as an investment in my future, and I’m very grateful for that. But, I still contributed financially throughout the year. I was awarded a $5,000 journalism work-study scholarship, which enabled me to reduce the costs a bit for my parents. I also agreed that I would use my own money for non-Winterline related things (souvenirs, clothing, drinks/snacks, etc.). In hindsight, I think our agreement was great, and very reasonable. I worked throughout the year by writing blog posts and creating video edits, which I was happy to do, especially considering it lowered the cost for my parents.
Talking to your parents (or the people you’re financially dependent upon) about taking a gap year shouldn’t be scary. Approach it conversationally, and be sure to explain why you want to take a gap year, what you want to get out of that year, and how you expect to pay for it. Be prepared to make compromises with them, financially and otherwise, and remember that there are plenty of options aside from your parents to fund your year abroad. And just don’t expect them to say yes to your dream solo trip in Europe!
To hear more from Anna, check out her personal blog here.