By Anna Nickerson, Babson College Class of ‘22
Last month, we looked at how colleges and universities are providing support for Gap Year students through in-house programs, fellowships and financial support. Here we look at some steps schools have taken to welcome Gappers onto campus and help them assimilate into college life after having an experience that differs remarkably from that of most incoming Freshmen.
Some schools have clubs that help students with the transition from a Gap Year back to a traditional learning environment. Harvard does a wonderful job of this. The Harvard Gap Year Society serves “as a community for students who have taken, or are taking, a Gap Year before coming to Harvard College.” Students can reach out to a mentor, someone who has taken time off from school before coming to Harvard, on the homepage of their website. The Society also offers additional resources and information to help educate prospective students’ decisions.
Carleton College in Minnesota has its own club called Mind the Gap – a student organization that wants to increase the popularity of Gap Years. They focus on increasing awareness of alternative learning opportunities as well as creating community for students who have taken Gap Years. (Carleton is super supportive of Gappers both before and after their Gap time – read Greta’s first hand account on the Carleton Admissions blog).
Middlebury College and Colorado College are both known for long-standing support of Gap Years. Middlebury offers a variety of information on its admissions website about Gap Years, ranging from volunteering programs to outdoor expeditions to the best books to read during your year off from school. Colorado College offers its Fall Semester Away program, and CC’s President even blogged recently about the strength of its Gap Year community!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, many universities offer free counseling services for their undergraduate students. Coming from a Gap Year back to school can present some unique challenges, so it is important for students to take advantages of services like these for their mental wellbeing. Sometimes simply talking to a campus advisor or mental health professional one-on-one can ease the transition.
While colleges become more and more encouraging of Gap Years every day, especially in the admissions office, it is important to recognize the schools who continue to consciously support their students after their arrival back on campus. From the resources mentioned here, to study abroad, to volunteering opportunities on campus, there is no doubt that Gappers can continue to build on their Gap Year experience when they enter college. More importantly, students who have taken Gap Years should feel supported and encouraged by the institutions they attend.
Note: Opening Photo – Greta Hardy-Mittell, Carleton College Class of ’23