By Mary DuBard, AmeriCorps Member, Comcast NBC Universal Sponsored Team,
Serving at Bakersville Elementary School
Recently I had the opportunity to travel with City Year New Hampshire’s Recruitment Manager, Vilma Silva-Rodriguez, to a local high school for a college fair. Around 200 students attended! We represented City Year New Hampshire and spoke to high school students about gap year programs in general. The majority of the questions the students asked about taking a gap year were similar to the questions I asked myself before deciding to do City Year. Without answering these questions, many students could write-off gap year programs before even truly considering them.
One relatable question I heard was, “Is it hard to find scholarships after a gap year? Did you lose any money?” With rising college costs, this question can be a real concern. During my gap year, though, I have seen that the answer to this is a resounding no. My financial aid hasn’t changed from my college. As far as outside scholarships go, many of them do list a requirement of being a high school senior. However, in my experience a quick email explaining your situation allows you to still apply. In addition, don’t forget that many colleges grant aid for being a part of an AmeriCorps program, and you get an education award for completing your year with City Year!
Another question someone asked was, “Did colleges still want you?” My answer is definitely! This again is something that concerns many students and parents, but in actuality it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many colleges and universities, such as Harvard, encourage students to take gap years. For example, I was able to accept to attending Wellesley College and then defer for a year. I’ve gone through my gap year knowing exactly where I’m going when it’s over. Taking a gap year, especially with a program like City Year, can only help your applications to college.
As the career fair started wrapping up, Vilma and I found ourselves talking to a junior in high school who had never thought of taking a gap year. Yet the more she talked to us about City Year, the more excited she became. She left with City Year brochures in hand, already planning on applying during her senior year. I hope all high school students find someone to answer their questions, just like she did, so they can make an educated decision about their future.