Why Take a Gap Year?

The transition between high school and college is a weighty one, and it may seem like taking a gap year means “missing out” or “falling behind.”  In fact, research says much the opposite!

The Gap Year Association defines a gap year as a structured period of time where students pause their formal education to increase self-awareness, challenge comfort zones, and experiment with possible careers.  Originating in the U.K. in the 1970’s, gap years have become increasingly common in the U.S. and around the world.

So, Why Take a Gap Year?

The top two reasons students themselves give for taking a gap are:

  • Burnout from competitive academic pressure
  • Desire to find out more about themselves before college life

Beyond these two, there are plenty of other reasons to consider:

1. Structured Gap Year participants get more out of college
Research indicates that students who take a gap year graduate college with a higher GPA than their counterparts.  They are more likely to complete their degree within 4 years.  Finally, they are more able to identify colleges and universities that fit their personalities and career ambitions, and to accurately choose courses of study that engage them. (See Benefits of Taking a Gap Year from the AGA).

2. Ninety-eight percent of colleges and universities accept deferrals for structured gap years
Harvard, Princeton, University of North Carolina, and Colorado College are just some of the many institutions that not only accept but encourage students to take gap years.

3. Ninety percent of students who take a gap year go to college or university within one year
This means that, nationally, gap year participants are more likely to pursue college or university than their peers.

See Gap Year Data from the AGA for much more statistical information regarding gap years.

Statistics aren’t everything.  Anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the value of experiential education, adapting to new environments, and taking time to identify what truly matters to each individual–academically and otherwise
(see 10 Reasons… from the Huffington Post Travel).

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Gap at Glen Brook for?

Gap at Glen Brook is for those who see the world as it is, and want to see it changed.  For those who want to embody their values and, in so doing, change their own lives.  For those who ask big questions that survive your attempts to answer them.  For those who are craving something more, something deeper.  For those willing to rise to the challenge of knowing and developing their inner world, and along with it the confidence to meaningfully impact the world around them.

Gap at Glen Brook is for those who seek to experience the fulfillment of a hand-made, simply-lived, purpose-driven life.  For those who want to root down into the land through wilderness connection and farming.  For those who want to learn to sustain themselves with whole foods, as well as with practical manual skills.  For those who want to feel what it can be to live in a whole community, and to be its responsible stewards.

Gap at Glen Brook does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or gender expression.  We are not a wilderness therapy program; neither therapeutic nor adjudicated youth are allowed.  We do not pay commissions on referrals.

What sort of trips do you go on?

We’ll take many day-trips and extended excursions in our explorations of New England and the Monadnock region: from the lakes of the Mahoosuc Range in Maine to the cliffs of nearby Marlow, and to many other places besides.  On all of our adventures, we make sure to follow the appropriate participant-to-staff ratios:

  • Overnight Backpacking:  8 to 1
  • Winter Camping:  6 to 1
  • Top-rope Climbing:  6 to 1
  • Flat-water Paddling: 6 to 1

What are your policies around managing prescribed medications?

Students who have prescribed medications are responsible for maintaining their medications safely, and for maintaining their medication regimen.  Gap at Glen Brook staff will help students find safe and appropriate locations for storage, and will check in intermittently with students about their medications, but ultimately we expect all students to care for themselves in this way—they know their own medication needs best, after all!

Can Gap students bring their car?

All driving during Gap at Glen Brook is done by our licensed and approved staff.  Please do not bring a car for your son or daughter—they won’t need it!  Also, please note that transportation via motorcycle, ATV, or quad is not allowed while on program.

Do you have any rules or non-negotiables that you expect gappers to follow? / What is your drug and alcohol policy?

Yes. We call our non-negotiables the “Red Rules:”

  1. NO exclusive relationships or sexual contact between gappers. Friendships contribute to the group; couples detract from the group experience. Couples want to get away and there is jealousy and envy. When the relationship goes sour, the tension that develops makes everyone uncomfortable. Intimate sexual activity is not allowed.
  2. NO behavior that is disruptive or injurious to yourself or other Gap at Glen Brook participants. Harassment or bullying, fighting, and the use of inappropriate language put others at risk and unravel our commitments to the group.
  3. NO possession, use, or distribution of alcohol, tobacco, and/or drugs. Tobacco, drugs, alcohol, or anything illegal are not allowed.

Any violation of the Red Rules is grounds for dismissal from Gap at Glen Brook.

What is your policy on technology? / How can I communicate with my child while they are at Glen Brook?

Gap at Glen Brook aims to help young adults develop their whole person in an environment with minimal screen influence. We believe that when we are less engaged with our screens, we are more available to the present moment and to our direct experience of a place. To us, the chance to “unplug” or nearly unplug for several weeks at a time is a unique opportunity that someone who comes of age in the 21st century might never otherwise get to enjoy and learn from.

We consume a “low-tech diet” at Glen Brook. Like taxi and take-off on an airplane, phone use is limited, and laptops, tablets, and other internet browsers are not allowed. During the first weeks of the program, the specifics and norms of phone use will be created collaboratively between gappers and leaders, both to meet our needs and to allow ourselves the fullest experience possible.

It will be quite possible for gappers to make calls through the landline at camp, and also to check email, etc. in our computer lab. Who knows, gappers might even feel so inspired to write some letters home!

The gap leaders will be reachable by phone around the clock should there be any emergency or reason for your families to get in immediate contact.

How is the food? / What if I'm vegetarian / dairy free / gluten free?

It’s hard to overstate the quality of food we have the fortune of access to at Glen Brook. Especially in the warmer months, much of our produce comes from our farm, and we have organic, pasture-raised Glen Brook meat (chicken, pork, and beef) available year-round. We source dry goods and other pantry staples from local farms and distributors. In general, we are nourished with whole, unprocessed foods and strive to match our diets with what is seasonally available.

Our very own Chef Taylor is a gifted and creative cook who is always coming up with new ways of repurposing recipes and accommodating various dietary needs. We are happy to work with many types of diets. Since the Food Studies portion of the curriculum is quite robust, we hope that—unless you have an allergy—you will be open to cooking with various ingredients to fully dive into the alchemical art of crafting meals for community.

Is Gap at Glen Brook religiously affiliated?

No. We welcome gappers of any religious background, and do not have a religious affiliation, nor an explicit religious aspect to our program.

There are elements to our program that some would consider matters of the spirit: we express gratitude before meals; we have regular mindful and contemplative practices, including yoga and meditation; we face head-on the task of examining, exploring, and challenging our world-views; and we strive to foster a sense of connection with the natural world. As with all things here, we encourage gappers to approach these questions with a sense of curiosity and open-mindedness.

Are you accredited by any accrediting organization?

Yes! We are accredited by the Gap Year Association, a leader in promoting integrity and best practices in gap years worldwide.