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How to Talk to Your Parents About a Gap Year
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How to Talk to Your Parents About a Gap Year

You want to take a gap year. You want to explore, learn outside the classroom, and gain real life skills. You’re ready to go, but there’s one small step left—you have to convince your parents.
If you’re nervous about broaching the subject, have no fear! A little research goes a long way, and there are plenty of resources to help your parents understand that taking a gap year could be the most formative experience of your life.

  1. Find your “why”. Explain to your parents >why you want to take a gap year. Do you have specific goals in mind? Maybe you want to intern with a conservation organization to see if that’s the career path you want to pursue. You can set goals, such as learning how to manage a budget, how to navigate a new place on your own, or live independently outside of your home. Figuring out your purpose will not only better prepare you to learn from your gap experience, but it will also help your parents understand what you will gain from your time outside of the classroom.
  2. Consider deferring college. If you haven’t applied to college yet, think about continuing the application process and simply deferring if you are accepted to a school you would like to attend. There’s a long list of schools that allow students to defer to take a gap year. That way, your parents will be assured you will be attending school the following fall, but you will also have a year to refresh and re-engage with learning before you start your next chapter in college.
  3. Provide safety information. If you are going to travel the world, your parents will likely be worried about your safety. Understand their concerns and take the initiative to show them how you will remain safe and healthy during your time abroad. At Rustic Pathways, we have an incredibly informative webinar from our Health and Safety Director, Dave Dennis, but you can also check out the State Department’s tips for students abroad and the CDC website for health information on the area of the world you are traveling.
  4. Research funding opportunities. Your parents would certainly appreciate you considering the financial costs of a gap year. Start with Rustic’s fundraising guide and review our scholarship opportunities. Sites like fundmytravel and provide easy-to-manage fundraising pages. If you plan out your gap year in advance, you may be able to fund part or even all of your program on your own!

Want to learn more about taking a gap year? Give me a call at 800.321.4353 or shoot me an email at

About the Author

Casey Atchley

Gap Year Admissions Coordinator

Casey received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Indianapolis in Spanish and Philosophy. Between years of undergrad, he took a gap year to volunteer as a volcano tour guide and English teacher in Nicaragua. Before returning to studies, Casey spent four months hiking the Appalachian Trail. With exceptional bilingual communication and leadership, he has managed Summer programs in Costa Rica and Rustic Pathways outreach in Europe. As a member of the Gap Year team, he now works with students planning their own gap years. Casey is happiest when he is on his bicycle!