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Family 411: Taking a gap year

Family 411: Taking a gap year (WSYX)

COLUMBUS (WSYX) - A gap year is typically when high school grads take a year off before starting college. It can be seen as a life changing opportunity but there's a lot that children and their families should consider.

"They always said go to college get a degree." Destiny Hackney took to heart her parent's advice. Only she explored a non-traditional path to get there.

"It helped me decide and get it etched in stone what I wanted to become." Right out of high school, Destiny plunged into a growing trend called "gap year".

"I think it just like opens your eyes to a lot of things like there's more than just America and once you go to another country like that you can kind of see that there are things you can do that are bigger than yourself." Gap year isn't a new phenomenon but it's one that is peaking more interest.

"This might be one of the very first big decisions that a young person makes do I go on to college do I go into the workforce do I take a gap year." College enrollment expert Rebecca Butler says the gap year is getting a lot more attention as a structured process for students.

"More than 90 percent of them will go to college the next year and the overwhelming amount of that 90 percent will achieve and succeed in college very very well."

Butler stresses the key to a successful break is to have a plan and discuss it with your family, guidance counselors and the colleges you're interested in attending. "Depending on what the student does in his or her gap year it can be looked upon very favorably in the admissions process but it's not a guarantee."

Destiny didn't know which college she'd choose at first. "I just started working and I went to a business seminar and got inspired by that."

She mapped out her future beyond higher education. "I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I graduated just because I researched it and I thought the idea of being my own boss was just amazing."

And how to work toward making her dream a reality without too much of a financial burden. "I want to graduate debt free."

"It is a reality for many families and many students the need to be very mindful of the financial situation that they will get into with college," says Butler.

Destiny is getting her basic courses out of the way at a community college before she transfers to a bigger school. After experiencing a gap year, she too has advice to pass along. "Don't just make a decision to do a gap year on a whim really think it through and discuss it with your parents and the people who care about you."

Butler says students hoping for academic credit for the experiences from a gap year need to speak with the college they're considering first.

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