Skip to main content

When to Consider a Gap Year Program (Child Mind Institute) Available in Spanish


Sometimes kids aren’t ready to go to college. They might need help with things like getting organized, asking for help or managing emotions. Or they might feel burnt out or unmotivated. Taking a gap year might help prepare them for a better college experience.

A common worry is that kids will lose momentum if they take a gap year. But for kids who need extra support, a gap year might mean that they are more successful when they do start college. Otherwise they might face a lot of challenges and even drop out.

There are different kinds of gap years to pick from. Thinking about the kind of support your child needs can help you choose the right one.

A bridge program gives kids practice taking classes in a college environment before they “count.” Bridge programs help kids build independence and strengthen organizational skills.

A “fifth year” or “post-graduate year” lets kids enroll in a private boarding school for independent study. It can help kids practice living away from home in a dorm that offers more structure that a typical college. It also helps kids fill in gaps for high school transcripts.

Other kids opt for real world experiences like volunteering or internships. These can help kids decide what they want to do in college or after. Another option is traveling or adventure-oriented trips like Outward Bound. These can help kids get a different perspective and build important social and life skills.

College counselors can help your child decide if a gap year is a good option.  Some families also work with independent educational consultants who specialize in gap year programs.


After High School Transition