The Benefits Of Taking A “Gap Year”
A really interesting perspective on the “gap year” (a year off from education taken between high school and college) from Victor Luckerson on Time.com:
“About 1.2% of first-time college freshmen choose to defer enrollment for a year, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. What these students choose to do with their time varies widely, from expensive study-abroad programs to volunteer programs to staying at home and saving up for college.
‘In 1980 no one was talking gap year,’ says Holly Bull, president of the Center for Interim Programs, a company that offers parents and students consulting in choosing the appropriate gap-year program. ‘I’ve watched this whole concept go basically from its inception to present day. I wouldn’t call it mainstream, but there’s way more awareness and support, and colleges are now beginning to endorse it as a really positive thing.’
With over 20 years of experience researching gap years, Bull has seen students work everywhere from outdoor-education centers to Scottish castles to elephant sanctuaries. She says the students that go to her are often looking for a break from the academic grind. The gap year can provide young people with an opportunity to learn what type of adult they want to be. It can also help them gain more focus so they don’t have to spend extra years — and tuition dollars — figuring out the answer to that question on a college campus. ‘I’m definitely hearing from families that it’s harder to consider these colleges’ tuitions with a student who seems so uncertain,’ she says.
Bob Clagett, a former director of admissions at Middlebury College, says taking a gap year can help students gain a renewed focus on academics. ‘By stepping off the treadmill, they frequently remind themselves of what their education is all about,’ he says. ‘They kind of reinvent themselves.’
He’s done research to back up the claim. At Middlebury, students who took gap years were found to have higher GPAs than those who didn’t, even when controlling for things like wealth and high school achievement. A study at the University of North Carolina yielded similar results.
The idea that formal education has to be a sprint from age 5 to 21 seems to be changing. Says Clagett: ‘Getting a job for a year, even if it’s flipping hamburgers, still can be a productive experience and can help students just do something other than think about what they have to do to get into college.’” Read more here.
Do you know a student who took a gap year, and was it a positive experience?