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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

Why September's Actions will Make or Break your Gap Year

Happy New Year! Well, it’s not actually January, but doesn’t September feel like New Years anyway? A new season, new academic year and so many amazing back-to-school deals!

But this is also an exciting time for gappers, as it’s the beginning of your Gap Year! In one of our past episodes we talked about the top 3 most challenging times for Gappers, and September definitely makes the list. You see everyone around you heading off to post-secondary, getting into a new routine, making new memories, and all of this can lead you to feeling isolated and experiencing FOMO!

Your gap year shouldn’t start like this, so tune in to see how you can jumpstart your year to lead to so many successes and achievements!

Better yet, Kickstart your gap year with CanGap’s FREE gap year orientation event, Gap Year Launch. Taking place in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary September 13th and 14th. See schedule, dates and locations at

It’s the perfect event to meet other gappers, mentors, attend valuable workshops and panels and have SO MUCH FUN!

Topics Discussed

  • Why September is one of the most challenging times for Gappers.

  • The Top 3 Challenges faced during this time and ways to mitigate them.

  • Gap Year Launch!! CanGap’s FREE Gap Year Orientation Event happening in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary both In-Person and Virtual. See schedule, dates and locations at

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Connect With The Canadian Gap Year Association


I don't know if it's just me, but September is like the real New Years. Forget January, September's where it's at. New Backbacks, clean notebooks, a fresh start.

But in this episode, we're gonna dive into why September is super critical for those of you on a gap year. So even when there's no new back-to-school stuff, it's actually back to not school.

Check out a post coming up on our Instagram about that. Why is September so critical? If you want to have a successful gap year, listen to this episode and set yourself up for success this September.

Hi there and welcome to the Gap Your Podcast. My name is Michelle Dittmer and I am your host and Gap Your Expert.

Now, I can't believe I'm going to be saying this, but September is just around the corner. I don't know about you, but in the mornings when I step outside, I can just feel it in the air. And in the evenings, just that cool breath and sitting outside and needing a sweater or a blanket to warm up, Fall is my favourite season, so I don't mind this switch, but it is a point of transition for a lot of people, especially those who are students or have been students.

And the reality is that for our young people who are starting a gap year for 14 years, students have been preparing for this start of the new year right now. And they are not only doing all of the physical things, like the back-to-school shopping and all of the getting ready for having a bedtime again. All of those things are happening, but it also evokes a lot of different feelings in our young people. Because for 14 years, at this time of year, they're excited to see their friends back in school.

They're looking forward to that familiarity of that routine, even if they don't say they're not craving routine, they really are. So looking forward to that routine, looking forward to the familiarity, and maybe even just a little bit nervous about the start of something new. So overall, usually it evokes very, very positive thoughts for those that have a good relationship with school, and usually predominantly a lot of excitement with a few nerves thrown in here and there.

But what happens for our young people that are not returning back to school for the first time? So in our case, this is our gap year students. What about them? What are they experiencing? Not going back to school for the first time in 14 years can be scary, and it can leave our young people feeling a little bit out of sorts, in uncharted territory a little bit uncomfortable. And on top of those internal feelings, They are also seeing their friends go off on social media, moving into residents, meeting new people, and that evokes a whole giant sense of FOMO, this fear of missing out. Feeling left behind, or feeling like they're falling behind.

Now, way back in May, I made an episode, which I'll link to in the show notes, about the three most difficult times of year for somebody taking a gap year. And September, end of August and September, is the toughest point for somebody on a gap year. Now, if you want to know what the other two are, take a listen to that episode and see what lies ahead and when there might be other pitfalls or September is what we're talking about today, the most challenging time for somebody on a gap year.

Now, very clearly, this September is going to be different than all of the other September's in both the gapper and the parents' memory. Clearly, that idea of having plans and routines from all the other years isn't going to help out this year. You need a new plan.

And that's what this episode is all about, is helping you to figure out what is that plan. And I'm going to say before we jump into what all the challenges are and how to circumvent those challenges or how to mitigate those challenges, I'm going to say that you, if you're a young person or your gapper, needs to attend our gap year launch event. Now, this event was inspired by the University and College Orientation Week and we've been doing it for four years now. And in the same way that universities do it for students, we do it for those on a gap year. We host it every September and it is the perfect event to kick off your gap year. The event itself is designed to bring those on a gap year from across the country together.

So this year we have in-person events happening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver and on top of that we have a virtual event for anybody that can't make it out to one of those locations. Now these events center around that idea of connection, connecting gappers to each other, Connecting gappers to alum who have been there, Connecting gappers to resources that will help them along their way. But not only is it about connection and strategic, but it's also fun. We have games and prizes and entertainment and lots of time for our gappers to get to know each other. The event is even led by our gap year experts and alum to give you those more strategic pieces, to show you the way and to get you into the groove of your gap year. And by the way, it is also free, absolutely free, no cost whatsoever.

And you can sign up at slash launch, L-A-U-N-C-H. But let's talk about really what are the challenges that launch addresses and really why should you join in or why should you figure out the way that's going to work for you.

So the first challenge I want to talk to is this idea of a never-ending summer. And this is people's biggest fear about wasting time so it can be very easy to let your summer habits roll on into the fall. So usually there's this external pivot point when school starts up and signals a change in behavior, but when you're taking a gap year, that drop-dead date when school starts doesn't exist for them. So the best practice is that you need something to trigger the end of summer and the start of your gap year. Your gap year is not an extended summer, it is different than that. This is your opportunity to make something of this time, to shift gears into an active mode rather than that summer passive mode. This is your time to maximize what you can do during this time and to reach those goals that you're setting for yourself.

Even if that goal is to recoup your mental health or recover from burnout, doing it actively during your gap year is very different than a summer of just relaxing and sitting on the couch. It needs to have that intention and this pivot point is really important. So the key to having a successful gap year is that it really needs to have a start date. A start date that puts you into the driver's seat and moves you into intentional action for your gap year. And that's precisely why we have Gap Year Launch every September. It's the perfect signal or pivot point to move from summer mode into gap mode and kick it off on the right foot with the right intention.

The second challenge is this idea of FOMO. We talked about it at the beginning, that fear of missing out. So right now there's no escaping the excitement that friends are having as they're getting ready to go on to school this year. So going off to university or college, whether they are buying their textbooks or planning to move into residence, whatever they're going on, there is a buzz of excitement. And for our students on gap years, this is when those dark feelings start to creep in, that feeling of, oh no, I've made a terrible mistake. Those feelings are very, very common where we start to think that we should be going to school this year, even though we know we made the right decision deep down inside, that FOMO causes those feelings to bubble up for us. Now let me reassure you, you have not made a mistake. This is just the nerves and uncertainty talking. You are gonna be okay and give it a month, your friends are gonna be jealous of you. They're gonna be experiencing some FOMO. So how do we get over that FOMO? We need to replace that kind of empty or boring schedule or calendar that you have With something exciting, something that you are looking forward to. This is an event just for you.

It's an opportunity similar to what your peers are experiencing, but different and unique enough for your needs as a gapper and fitting into your other gap year plans. It's really a great way to build your gap year network. Can't even count the number of lifelong relationships and friendships that have started at gap year launch. It really truly is such a magical event. And while I'm exhausted at the end of it, I just walk away with such a huge smile knowing how much it has impacted these young people's lives.

Now, speaking of friends, here comes up the next challenge. Is this feeling of isolation? So it's kind of connected to FOMO, this idea of feeling like you're missing out, but we know how important friends are, especially in our teenage years or early twenties.

And it's going to be hard enough to not be going to the same school like you have in all the past years, but for the first time, you're also not necessarily at the same stage of life. You are on a gap year, they are still a student, and it can become a little bit harder to relate to one another.

So as a gapper, maybe you don't really know what life during midterms is all about. And as a university student, your friends might not know what it's like to travel to another country or have your dream internship. And it can be a little bit harder to relate to each other, but this is just a small period where you are temporarily on different pages.

Now to add to that, when you're looking at your friends' Instagram, TikTok, and you see them making posts of them connecting with new people, making new friends, and if you're just sitting on the couch waiting for your gap year to start, you're gonna feel extra crappy. Like I'm all alone, I don't have any friends, and I'm not gonna make any friends on my gap year.

We don't want that to happen, so it's really important in September to plug in some opportunities to keep your social life going. This is important throughout the gap year, but setting the tone in September is really, really important. Launch is all about community and it's a community of people that understand it. They're living the same thing that you are. They are also on a gap year. They are also feeling isolated. They're also feeling FOMO. They're also excited and nervous about their upcoming gap year so they get it. They're on the same journey as you with similar struggles, similar values, fears, and even excitement about their gap year. I wanted to share a couple quotes from past gappers who have attended the launch. It used to be called gap year frosh week, so when they do say that it is the same event, just rebranded. So here's one that says, “I enjoyed being part of Gap Year Fresh Week because it was filled with amazing people and resources that made me feel secure and more comfortable with my decision, as well as introducing me with a new community” Or how about this one? “It was an amazing experience being part of the Gap Year Fresh Week where I felt a sense of community from mentors and fellow gappers. There were meaningful sessions and workshops which will guide me throughout my Gap Year”

Amazing, I can't make this up, this came from people who attended our event in the past, so they're talking about the connections that they made, the resources that they got, and I can tell you year after year the feedback about community is definitely one of the most valued elements of launch through the gapper's eyes.

Now let me take you through one last challenge that September presents, and this is the uncertainty of what to do on your gap year. So for a lot of people, the gap year has kind of been in the future. I will figure out what I'm doing in the summer. I will figure it out in September. I will figure it out later. But now, later is here, and we've got to start making some decisions.

When I say move to action, it means making some decisions. So, I will say that without a plan, now you probably heard me say that in every episode before, so I can probably tag every episode I've ever recorded, but without a plan, it's hard to move yourself forward.

To get a plan going, if you don't have the inspiration and guidance on how to prioritize your time, how to get connected with amazing opportunities, it really is an uphill battle. That activation energy to kick into gear can sometimes be so overwhelming.

Now, as part of Launch, our amazing team gives you the inspiration, the tools, the connections, and we connect you to amazing gap year opportunities. So you're really going to walk away with the attitude, resources, and excitement that you need to make this September better than all of the previous September's.

And it will really set the tone for an amazing gap year. So, all that being said, with September right around the corner, it's time to get the things that you need in place to hit the critical activities that you're gonna need to make your gap your successful. You can, of course, as always, DIY, all of these experience, use these tips, put them into action, and it will set you up for success. But we've put it all together for you as part of this two-day launch event.

It's in person in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and we have that virtual event for anybody who can't make it in those destinations. So all of that happens, and then on day two, it goes online for everyone. So we're going to bring everyone from across the country together into building one big network, and it is just such a beautiful community to be a part of with inspiration to spare.

So again, if this is something you want to join in, it is a free event. You can join at slash launch. Now, while September is the most challenging time of the year, thank goodness things get easier from here. And so if you're finding yourself in a rough patch right now, know that it's only temporary. And once you break through that challenge, once you set yourself up for success by addressing all of the challenges in this episode, really truly the sky's the limit. And we are here to help you, so don't be a stranger. Reach out and get the support that you need. Our website is available. We offer our free consultations. Come out to launch and meet us in person. We would love, love to kick off your gap year with intention and purpose and inspiration. So please come out to our launch event, slash launch.

And until then, my friends, keep on adventuring 🌄

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