S1-EP1: Why Gap Years Are NOT Wasted on the Young (Debbie’s Three Children, and her Dad)

Feb 8, 2019


Starting from the premise that gap years – a chance for reinvention and renewal – are possibly wasted on the young, Debbie set out to explore the difference between student and grown-up gap years.


In Episode 1 Debbie explores the difference between student and grown-up gap years. She reminisces with her 88-year-old father about her first “gap year” when, as a 14-year-old, she was sent to school in France for a year. She reminds her father that she had NOT been allowed to go to Paris for a holiday break in the company of several 16-year-old classmates… who were boys. Now that would have been a gap year experience. He was delighted that she had the chance to learn French. Then she interviews her three adult children who each took a gap year, at age 18, before starting university. Each tells her something about their experience that she had never heard before.

It turns out that gap years are NOT wasted on the young.



Le Chambon-sur -Lignon in the Massif Central

Collège Cévenol: the school Debbie attended in France is now closed, but that’s a story for another day.

Host: Debbie Weil

Producer: Julie-Roxane Krikorian

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Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."