A Gap Year – The Right Choice for an ADHD Teen?

According to the American Gap Association a gap year is an experiential year typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness. Its purpose is to allow students to increase self-awareness, learn about different cultural perspectives, and experiment with future possible careers.

A gap year can be especially important and beneficial for students with ADHD. They may need a break from a high-stress academic environment. Or they just need more time to find a direction before jumping back into a classroom. It is an opportunity to mature and gain practical life experience before returning to the rigors of college.

A gap year is not a time for your teen to hang out. During a gap year, a student in a gap year program may engage in many different types of activity, including:

  • Travel
  • Volunteer
  • Study
  • Intern
  • Perform research

You can design a gap year program for your child, or take advantage of organizations that help with the process, such as internshipprograms.com and goabroad.com. The American Gap Association also lists a number of accredited programs for gap year students. USA Gap Year Fairs is also an excellent resource for exploring different gap year programs. The key to getting the greatest benefit from a gap year is to involve your ADHD teen as much as possible in the design of the gap year.

Gap years generally have a price tag associated with them. The editors of ADDitude magazine estimate that a gap year can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. This may sound like a lot. However, ADHD teens often drop out of college if they are not prepared or may take longer to graduate. A gap year, viewed in this light, can actually save you money in the longer term. And it can give your child invaluable life experiences that can help them succeed, not only in college, but in life.

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2 Responses

  1. Jenn

    This mother of a rising h.s. junior would love to hear advice from other parents of students w ADHD who have taken a gap year. Please comment!

  2. Tina Duker

    I encouraged my son to take a gap year between high school and college but he decided to move straight into college life. Even with accommodations, living at home with his dad and step-mother (who is also a college professor and his academic advisor), he did not do well and lost his scholarship by the end of the year. He has now decided to take that gap year to determine what he is interested in and strengthen his work ethic. I think that year after high school is important and when used wisely can foster greater independence and self confidence. Sometimes I guess they have to learn the hard way.