Taking a Gap Year or even a Gap Semester isn't a new concept, but for some it's daunting and feels downright allusive. I just talked with a sophmore college student recently who said, "I've always wanted to do something like this, but I didn't think I really could."
Giving thoughtful attention to your life goals and present situation can open unique opportunities you may not have realized.Many students are looking for unique ways to take a break from "normal," go deeper with God, and experience an adventure to remember for a lifetime. First, you need to know it is completely okay to take a gap year or even a gap semester! As I've talked to students about this, I recognize how important planning can be when considering a gap year or a gap semester.
As you begin to think through what it would take to pull something like this off, here are 3 signifcant considerations to help you.
1. Fight against FOMO
Whether you are thinking about taking a gap year straight out of high school or taking a semester break from college, overcoming FOMO can be a bigger deal than you realize. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a real thing. Your challenge will be pushing past and even fighting against the feeling you will miss out on something back home or in college if you take a break from it. If you're constantly unable to make decisions or even stick the ones you believe are important to you, you may be letting FOMO dictate your life experiences. Recently, Psychology Today made a list of how to deal with FOMO and in their list number 8 is my favorite - Savor the Moment.
No doubt, we often think the grass is greener on the other side only to find out it's just a different shade than where we already were. However, when we savor the moment, we don't look around for every other available option to get out of the experince right in front of us. Making the decision to take a break from the traditional education environment and immerse yourself in God and community will give you fresh perspective. When you decide to focus and take in everything, from start to finish, something amazing traspires within you and you don't miss the sweet aroma of the moment you're in.
2. Now's the time to travel!
Of course there are plenty of ways to travel and see the world, but honestly, not like this. Youth With A Mission, and specifically YWAM Tyler have been doing mission trips for students all over the world, in some of the most interesting places on the planet. Name a country anywhere, and most likely, we have people with feet on the ground doing ministry in that area. We love sending our students out on mission experiences to see firsthand how God is winning in the nations. Traveling with a DTS (Discipleship Training School) team gives real percpective on the needs of people around the world. There's not many organizations able to plan a two month trip abroad for you like we can.
For the price, you just can't beat it. Now granted we aren't staying in some luxury hotel and sipping chilled lemonade with umbrella straws by the pool. However, we are always in safe places, and our hosts really desire to serve us as we serve them. YWAM believes in teams. Your school is your team, and on outreach everyone looks out for each other. I'm not sure I've ever heard of any two outreaches being the same. They are very unique to each schoolm and you'd be hard pressed to pull off a trip like we do for the same cost. The schools' leaders are skilled at getting the costs as reasonable as possible and together having a great adventure.
3. Overcome the Money Hurdle
If you make a list of the real hurdles you need to face in order to take a gap year or gap semester, you may find your list highlights the costs. What I hear from most students is the financial barrier seems to be the biggest hurdle. I get asked all the time, "How do students pay for their tuition?" It's a great question. So how do you over come the money hurdle?
Over and over again, from the moment someone decides to come and do a training school with us, we have seen provision come together in the craziest ways at the craziest times. We believe something Hudson Taylor said many years ago, "God's work, done God's way, never lacks God's supply."
Read some real stories from just last year on this topic? Here are 2 other blogs to encourage you it is possible to raise the money to do a DTS. Your Not the Only One Struggling with Provision | We Needed $2,500 by 5pm
When there is clear direction and you know this is your moment, family and friends will be supportive. Your local church will be thrilled to send you out for discipleship training and a missions experience. College and career will always be waiting for you. Taking this time will most likely help you gain perspective on how your career can be your mission field.
Finally, I just want to encouage anyone reading this blog to not wait. This could be your year. The sad part would be never trying and then wondering why you never took the leap. I hear from students all the time who say, "Maybe next year." Let's be honest, many times next year never comes because something else comes up. Pray and ask God for clarity on taking this step. Confide in your parents, pastor, or friend what you sense God saying to you. Walk by faith and take the plunge.
When does YWAM Tyler offer the perfect time for a Gap Year? Get more information about dates and schools, and someone will reach out to you soon.