Taking a year off of school decides students future - DatelineCarolina

Taking a year off of school decides students future

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Andrea thanks her Gap Year experience for loving her new job. Andrea thanks her Gap Year experience for loving her new job.
Andrea consoles young girl after not being able to say Andrea in English. Andrea consoles young girl after not being able to say Andrea in English.
Kidist learns to say puppy in English thanks to Andrea. Kidist learns to say puppy in English thanks to Andrea.

By Jackie Moreno

Many incoming College freshman are faced with a big decision coming out of high school: What do you want to do for the rest of your life?

"There this expectation that when we leave high school and come to college you're suppose to know what you want to do," says UNC graduate Andrea Lane

She is one of many students who graduated high school not knowing what she wanted to study once she was accepted at UNC Chapel Hill.

She came across the Gap Year program when looking at the options on UNC's website. It offered a solution for undecided freshman.

The program offered her time off from school with a $7,000 to $8,000 for  a combination of traveling, volunteering, interning, or working. It covers housing, airfare, and even visa fees. 

The money comes from the donations made to the American Gap Year Association.

A gap year lets students take a break from their education to increase self-awareness, challenge comfort zones, and experiment with possible careers.

It allows them to see the world beyond the bubble they grew up in and return to school with a better perspective for their future.

This experience can last from two months to two years.

"Finding this program pushed me into a passion I didn't even know I had, teaching," says Andrea

She spent her year off in Ethiopia and Rwanda where she taught English to under privileged children and helped rebuild communities.

Since her Gap Year, Andrea transferred to USC  and has graduated. She is pursuing her love for teaching at the Jewish Day School. She helps children like Kidist, an adopted seven year old from Ethiopia.

"Helping her is a constant reminder of my experience and everything I saw. I just love her and push her to her potential because I've seen how hard its been for her. She's come a long way and without my gap year I wouldn't have been able to understand as much as I do now," says Andrea.

The American Gap Year Association reported an increase in GPA, better clarity with career ambitions, and 90 percent likelihood of students finishing college with a four year degree among the participants.

They hope to spread across the country and implement their programs within all universities.





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