Everywhere I go, I hear incredible stories about gap years.
Whenever I’m at different fairs or conferences, people come up to me to tell me how great their gap year was. I can’t count the amount of times I hear, “I took a gap year, and it was the best decision I could have made.” And this hasn’t happened once or twice – it happens all the time. While they always rave about the different things they did, they always come back to how it helped them to grow and learn in ways that formal education couldn’t have.
I hear these amazing stories all the time, and I just wished there was a way to capture them and share with people who are considering a gap year – which is where this podcast came in! I am so excited to share all of these stories, along with the tips and tricks to make your gap year meaningful.
I often get asked about what sparked my passion for the gap year pathway as an option. I started out my career as a high school science teacher but left the classroom soon after. Teaching in a classroom wasn’t the right fit for me – I saw that students needed space for experiential learning, reflection, and support in defining who they are and who they want to be as they make the transition into adulthood. That’s where gap year comes in. It helps students get into the driver’s seat of their own lives – professionally, personally and in relationships.
Now more than ever, youth are getting involved in the different issues we are facing in today’s world – and with so much going on, it can make things seem scary. Taking the time during a gap year to gain some perspective, realize the gifts and talents that they have to contribute to the world, and aligning them with passions and meaningful ways of contributing to society will lead to a stronger future for humanity and for the individual.
But if gap years are so valuable, why haven’t they caught on in Canada?
While working with gap families for over a decade, I’ve listened intently to the objections of families and have some answers to that very question.
The American Dream – We are still living in the false-reality of previous generations. The idea that “the harder you work, the faster you go, the more successful you will be, the sooner you will be successful” is still part of our everyday narrative, even if it’s inaccurate. Therefore any deviation on the ‘fastrack’ has a stigma attached to it. It can be falsely seen as being lazy, not good enough to go on, or wealthy enough to go on wild, expensive adventures.
A Strong Education System – Canada has one of the top educational systems in the world. Our colleges and universities are world-renowned, with lots of power, money and international influence. This prestigious status of Canadian higher education, paired with how fiercely students are recruited for post-secondary schools while still early in high school, drive the narrative that taking a path that isn’t direct into university or college is less valuable.
Lack of Information – Guidance counselors, teachers and parents have not been supplied with accurate and helpful information on the gap year pathway, so many rely on their lived experience. Educators need to have a university education so, by no fault of their own, they are influenced by their lived experience. This will shift as more educators and parents are informed on the gap year pathway
Canada is Safe – If we live in such a safe and great country, why would we ever leave it? With gap years being so deeply linked with travel, this is a common objection to the gap year path. In Canada, we don’t have the same level of social challenges as many other countries for the most part. On the other hand, because we have it so good in Canada, travelling to new places can seem daunting. Travel also isn’t as commonplace in Canada, as compared to somewhere like Europe. Our country is so big that it makes local travel less popular – as well as the skills that are gained from stepping outside your comfort zone and into a new province or country. This lack of confidence in travel can also keep people from gap years.
In short, this podcast will help Canadians gain confidence and knowledge about their decision to take a gap year. By telling more stories and sharing ways to make gap years easier, the more meaningful this podcast will become in helping individuals and families start to shift the overall conversation about gap years.
Mission of the Canadian Gap Year Association
The Canadian Gap Year Association (CanGap) is a registered non-profit organization filling a gap: support for young people looking for an alternative step in educational and/or career pathways through taking a gap year.
Our mission is to build a healthier, happier, more resilient and experienced Canadian youth population by connecting families with the resources they need to have purposeful gap years.
Our resources include online and in-person events, connection to gap year and youth-specific programs and activities, a recognition program, and knowledge and expertise for all those connected to gap years.
We achieve this through professional collaborations with passionate and qualified professionals in secondary and post-secondary education, travel, volunteering, personal and professional development, and government.
Families who engage with us and apply the best practices of purposeful gap years will see the young adult emerge with more confidence and independence, more awareness of their talents and passions and more driven to use these to contribute to society.
Helpful Gap Year Resources
Check out some of our amazing resources here!