The concept of taking a break in formal studies – often called a “gap year” – is a common practice in Australia and the U.K. and has been slowly gaining popularity here in Canada. While some students sail though high school, then college or university into well-chosen careers, others find the path can be more winding than expected. Gap year experience can help some students gain clarity and focus when the time comes to bridge the real gap between the end of schooling and the beginning of work life.
Katimavik, a national organization, believes that many students benefit from taking a break in their formal studies after high school and offers intensive 6-month service and learning programs for youth between the ages of 17 and 21 across Canada.
A Katimavik participant is enrolled in a structured program that presents them with achievable real life challenges and projects. As Katimavik volunteers they gain confidence and a real sense of accomplishment. They also have a unique opportunity to connect with youth across the country helping them develop true social networks and friendships that are more than just avatars on a computer screen.
While some parents worry about how taking time off will affect their children’s future prospects, many young Canadian students often respond to this pressure by choosing a major without the conviction that the program is right for them. In fact, jumping into “the gap” can actually provide more focus and better preparation for the rigors of future academic life. Harvard University, one of the world’s most competitive and sought-after universities, agrees and encourages every student they admit to consider taking a year off before matriculation. Rather than rushing anxiously into a university program they are uncertain about, Katimavik graduates often return to higher education energized and enthusiastic about their potential and their futures.
Katimavik is committed to expanding the options available to young people in a positive way that leads them back into higher education with a stronger sense of self and purpose. After 13 years of compulsory schooling in the Canadian educational system young adults have to make a very important and sometime costly commitment not all of them are ready to make. For these people, taking a break from formal studies is not about taking time off, but rather taking time to discover their true selves and future potential. With successful programs designed to let youth develop the skills and maturity needed to make better decisions, Katimavik offers an alternative path to young people who care about their success in school and life.
For more information on Katimavik programs please visit www.katimavik.org
Victoria Salvador, National Director of Marketing and Communications – Katimavik