The significance of academic gap year programmes

Here are some things to consider before deciding whether or not to take a year off after you complete your high school education. Most communities frown against taking a gap year. Many parents worry that it can cause their kids to act irresponsibly or become lethargic. Some believe that it is a much-needed respite for children before they enter the adult world and that this may give them time to discover who they are. According to Indeed, it’s critical to comprehend the potential effects of taking a gap year on both you and your future ambitions.

To better prepare for the working world, some students may decide to take a gap year either before or after completing their secondary education. In light of this, students must make sure that taking a gap year is a well-considered choice because there may be some inherent drawbacks, such as falling behind by a year on your potential graduation date, spending a lot of money planning it, and potentially getting sick during that time.

What is a gap year?

A gap year is a yearlong hiatus, often taken between high school and college or university, during which time one could travel, work, volunteer, and re-write. It’s more than just a relaxing break; it’s a chance for kids to learn essential life lessons and experience while deciding which vocation best suits them or fits them. One can typically benefit from a break from routine and the perspective needed to refocus and excel in college and beyond from a gap year spent traveling or volunteering. Additionally, having a language skill may assist you to avoid taking a bridging course at first and instead getting placed in your desired course. A huge step like taking a gap year necessitates an incentive to push you to step outside of your comfort zone. You may get the chance to learn about another culture and develop your confidence this way. A gap year does not imply that you will always be without a degree or that your family will be forced to support you. Since some of these students go on to become great entrepreneurs, there is no study to suggest that kids who never enroll in a postsecondary institution are not even successful.

Make sure to seize any possibilities that come your way if you intend to take a gap year. Try to make the most of your time by exploring, learning new things, experiencing new things, and finding your passion. Employing yourself in a field that you’d be interested in studying in college is one approach to making the most of a gap year. Being productive improves your maturity and gets you ready for the workplace.

Academic Bridging Year Offers Alternative Route to University

An academically beneficial bridge year might offer an alternative path to entry into a university for matriculants who do not instantly acquire access to their intended university course or whose scores do not fulfill the requisite admission requirements for, for example, degree or diploma programmes. An academic “gap” year, also known as an academic bridging year, may be an alternative path to tertiary studies or the working world, where post-secondary education is becoming more and more important, for those who do not meet the requirements for admission to universities or who wish to improve their matric results.

According to Prof. Leopoldt van Huyssteen, the executive director of the Academy for Environmental Leadership SA, private tertiary schools are one of the potential entry points to university study (AEL). This institution offers a higher certificate in conservation ecology at NQF level 5, which is accredited and fully registered.

An academically beneficial bridge year might offer an alternative path to entry into a university for matriculants who do not instantly acquire access to their intended university course or whose scores do not fulfill the requisite admission requirements for, for example, degree or diploma programmes. According to Van Huyssteen, this is one of the factors that attracts many potential students to the AEL program. Many matrics who are undecided about what to study and need additional time to examine their options before committing to a university course benefit from an academic bridging year.

Students can, for example, either continue their education or enter the workforce to begin establishing a career as an environmental impact assessor or controller, or as a professional in a similar role in the agriculture or mining sectors, with the AEL’s higher certificate under their belts.According to Van Huyssteen, “It is a full-fledged tertiary qualification on the basis of which students can be hired in the workplace after only one year of study.”There are currently other bridging year programs offered locally that have an emphasis on things like life skills, personal development, and outdoor activities.

For example, the Young Minds Programme of the University of Stellenbosch Business School offers a career-focused gap year with a strong entrepreneurial approach. For students interested in studying agriculture, the Peritum Agri Institute and the Reitz Agricultural Academy offer a bridging year. The Northern Cape Nature Academy also offers a field guide course that is accredited. These programs offer many paths to higher education and vary in terms of academic substance and weight.

Nearly all gap-year students enroll in or continue their higher education after their gap year, according to the Gap Year Group (GYA), an international association with headquarters in the USA. In the world, 90% of students who took a gap year eventually enrolled in university education. In 2020, about half of GYA respondents said they were more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree after taking a gap year. ┬áNearly all GYA respondents said that their gap year had been a successful preparation for both higher education and the workforce.

Gap year meaningful Academic opportunities

Thousands of students go by the wayside every year as a result of the enormous gap between secondary and postsecondary education. Researchers at Stellenbosch University recently noted that, of every 100 students who begin school in a given year, 60 go on to write the matric exam, 37 pass, and 14 pass with scores that qualify them for admission to universities (the “Bachelor’s pass”), 12 enroll in universities, and 4 earn degrees within six years. A lot of first-year students have trouble adjusting to the pace and workload of college. According to recent assessments, this phenomena causes severe throughput issues and extremely poor student success rates in higher education. University failure costs money and frequently causes mental setbacks due to unmet expectations.

Today, many institutions make investments in specialized academic programs that might act as a transitional year for students whose matriculation math and science scores were insufficient to qualify them for admittance into math, science, technology, engineering, or related programs. Extended degree programs that spread out the initial academic year across two years are also available.

In order to “perform themselves into” higher education, the University of the Free State, for instance, offers “university access programs.” These programs offer a higher certificate in natural and agricultural sciences or economic and management sciences (with maths, chemistry, and agriculture study options). Successful students also have access to relevant post-secondary degree programs with credit and/or prior learning recognition.The SciMathUS program at Stellenbosch University gives matriculants who received an average of at least 60% (but who did not receive an exemption for degree studies) a second chance to improve their math and science scores so that they can reapply for university programs with specific entry requirements. The program’s goal is to increase the number of students who can enroll in courses that require math and physical science prerequisites by giving them the opportunity to retake the National Senior Certificate (NSC) in those areas.

Students who take part get the added benefit of improving their reasoning, interpersonal, and problem-solving abilities in an academic literacy course while also getting to choose between a scientific or accounting track. They are prepared for the digital age with computer skills training. Since the program’s start 20 years ago, SciMathUS graduates have seen an average 15% improvement in their NSC scores in mathematics and physical sciences. Approximately 350 students continued on to get a degree between 2005 and 2019. According to Van Huyssteen, students who take an academic year off are frequently more mature, intellectually stronger, more autonomous, and much better prepared for university study.

All of the AEL students who continued their education in 2020 passed their first year. This is an impressive result considering that only one in three first-year students who enroll in college right after high school normally complete the year successfully. A great return on investment is offered by the academic bridging year at the AEL, where student achievement is consistently higher than 90%. It’s time to strategize and consider your options for those who received unsatisfactory matric results or who are still unsure about their plans for the future. Don’t sit in doubt, Van Huyssteen counsels. Examine a program for a year of accademic gap.


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