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January the fourteenth is the university due date for applications. Perhaps our son/daughter is not sure if they want to attend. Lori Gribbon, Head of Liaison, at Western has informed me that the earliest date that an Ontario university may require a commitment but students have the right to amend their application Sadly, there is no chance for a deferment.

The vast majority of our high school grads have spent a minimum of fourteen years in school. Some students are plainly bored and are not biting at the bit with the prospect of four more years attending a post secondary education.

In Europe many students as a right of passage have a gap year in between a secondary school education and university. Many travel on the cheap to far off lands working and staying in hostels.

The International Association for Youth operates in forty countries and mandates either military or volunteer work before entering post secondary education.

Germany, Switzerland have compulsory army service as part of the gap year experience.

Prince William built pathways in Chile and Prince Harry has worked as a farm hand in the Outback in Australia.

In Canada it has been frowned on to take a year off from regular studies. To get out of the box of formal learning and replace it with experiencing real life away from the college campus is not part of the North American mind set.

My own son, Ari, studied Bio Chemical Engineering .When he finished his second year of rigorous studies he jumped at the chance to spend a sixteen month internship at Celistica.

No more sitting in class preparing for tests and assignments. He moved to Toronto with his classmate, Demetri, into an apartment. They learned to cook and balance their cheque books.

On the job experiences along with a decent salary can beat the hell out of attending classes.

Questions, questions you ask. Will my son/daughter go on to complete their education? Taking a year on not off can make attending lectures a whole lot more meaningful. Make sure that your son/daughter has a plan and objectives to ensure that the time is spent wisely. If one is so inclined to get an education they will return to school refreshed and eager to learn.

Katimavik , www.katimavik.org ,this year has 1000 places for students 17 -21 to work in three different communities for nine months providing service programs. The participants earn $3.00 per day, travel expenses, room and board and a bursary of $1000. upon completion.

Canada World Youth, www,cwy-jcm.org offers a six month program, three months in Canada and the rest oversees. Those chosen live with local families and volunteer on community projects. Latin America, Africa, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe are possible exchange sites.
“The selection criteria are: to be open minded, having good judgement, being adaptable and ready to donate time and enthusiasm.”

CUSO - www.cuso.org - sends Canadians with an undergraduate degree to volunteer for overseas assignments.

Students can make their own plans for a gap year -
on-not off- away from their studies.

Learning does not necessarily have to have a formal school component. Work, travel can offer wonderful real life experiences that can not be found in the classroom.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com