Should students consider taking a year off in between high school and college?
Some should, most shouldn’t. There are too many variables for a detailed answer.
A gap year, sometimes called a year out, or year off, or bridging year, is a transition year, usually between high school and college, when the student takes time to do something else. Although it is still the exception in the United States for students to take a gap year, it is a growing trend. Some programs which target gap year students are seeing as much as 15-20% growth. The National Association for College Admission Counseling has suggested that the practice of taking a gap year is on the rise.
A gap year isn’t for every student. Any student who is considering a gap year should give careful thought to her reasons. A gap year is not intended as a method for procrastinating and putting college off just for the sake of it, but rather for using the year actively for some purpose. Some students want to take a year to pursue a dream, to travel abroad, to volunteer or do community service, to work, to explore interests, passions, or careers, or just to pause before forging ahead. One important key is for your student to think about her motivations and clarify her goals
It is a possibility for students that feel like they need to have that year off to refocus their energies and start anew. Gap years are highly respected – if you are considering this option, make sure you are actually doing something, and not collecting an allowance for playing video games for the year.
Simple answer is, of course! there is absolutely no rush in making the transition from high school to college. However, it is what you do with that time that really matters. Some prospective students may need to work for a year to save for college while others may look to travel abroad which can be an extremely rewarding experience and can often help to enter college life with more focus and certainty in what your next step should be.
I will say that one of the most important things one can do on a gap year is gain some added work experience. Whether it is volunteering or getting the opportunity for paid work, this can be an excellent bonus to your resume and will put you one step ahead of others when it comes to job searching once you have finished your degree.
If you’re not quite ready for college taking a year off or gap year might be a good option for you. University grads who took a break after high school earned 8% over their peers who went directly to university. The wage premiums for delayers who completed multiple degrees are higher still – 10% more for non-university grads and 13% more for those who graduated from university. However, in order to earn more than – or even as much as – traditional university graduates, delayers had to be employed. University graduates who took a break and not work earned 20% less than those who went straight from high school to university. So if you’re in high school and considering a gap year, don’t go travelling in Europe but get a job. If you don’t work then you may find your earning potential lower than your peers. Think about your options very carefully.
Taking a gap year, especially if you are feeling uncertain about college or just needing a break from strict academics, can be a very valuable experience. It can even help make you a more attractive candidate to some colleges, as those who pursue a well-planned gap experience often come back with more maturity and self-confidence and are better prepared for the challenges of higher education. If you are planning to attend a private college, it might be an option to apply and be accepted to a school, then defer your admissions for one year while you go on a gap year. Public universities typically won’t grant deferrals, but it is possible to apply for admission for the following academic year while you are on your gap year. Remember, a gap year doesn’t mean sitting around playing video games and sleeping all day. If you plan to take time off, be sure it is productive and that you are either pursuing a formal gap program (there are many excellent reputable companies offering gap year experiences around the world) or are doing a valuable internship. The idea is to develop new skills and gain exposure to the world around you. It will benefit you in college and for the rest of your life.
This is a great question. There has been a lot of press lately that college is not right for everyone. Though the statistics show that students who graduate from college have significantly higher salaries, going to university should be the right choice for you. But further to the question, sometimes students are not really prepared to go off to school immediately after graduating from high school. There are two thoughts on the matter. 1. Most students are going right off to college and will be moving forward in math, science and other subjects. Their brains are engaged. They are mature enough to know what they “think” they want to study and are prepared to become “independent” and take responsibility for the next step of their education. Some just follow along because there is pressure to go. Most students are really ready and they should go off and explore the next phase of their academic pursuits. 2. For some, going off to college is not the right idea. The need some time to sort things out. So taking a gap year could be the right thing to do. While most students are a bit nervous going off to college – new friends, new environment, higher academic expectations etc… (this is common) some students are just not ready. Data has shown that students who take a gap year AND do something constructive enter university more committed, more prepared, more mature to engage in their education. These students are also more likely to graduate on time and be more successful once in university. Taking a gap year should be something that will engage you in a new and different way. Staying at home and mowing the lawn, living off your parents is NOT a good idea. Get a job, volunteer, travel, write a book, get an internship or something of the like that will force you to get up every morning and learn about you and your place in the world. College is a great experience, but you need to be ready. Most likely it may be the first time you have lived away from home. You need to be ready to truly take charge. So if you are going right off, be prepared, as best you can for what is coming. College is not about partying all night and going to sports events. It is about learning who you are while getting an education to prepare you for a career.
Taking a year off can be a great idea, but to maximize its value you should have a plan in mind. With college costs being as high as they are, there is no real value in going simply because it seems to be the next logical step after high school. Consequently, putting it off while you try and get a better sense of where it fits into your future can be a good thing–but don’t waste the year. There are a growing number of formalized programs for students looking to take a “Gap Year,” but you can also make your own plan—whether it be travelling or a focused year of working, an experience that will do much to develop maturity, a broader perspective, and a sense of responsibility. None of it will hurt in the college sweepstakes. The admissions office will look at all you have done—in school and out—as they consider what you can bring to their community.
I think everyone should consider taking a “gap year” after high school – not a year off, but a year of meaningful experience. Parents, don’t panic when you read this – I said “consider”! A year out of school is not right for everyone, but for many students it can be a valuable experience, and as a side effect, actually help you get into the college of your choice. Live with a family in Spain and learn the language first-hand; do service work for six months; be a part of a crew on a sailing schooner; take a course to learn something you’ve always wanted to know how to do; or work to earn money for college. There are hundreds of examples of constructive things you can do with a gap year and organizations that can help you organize it; but just taking a year to hang out with your friends and play video games is a bad idea. A constructive gap year can be fulfilling, character-building, and help you grow as a person, which is why colleges consider you a more attractive applicant after a substantive gap year.
Yes, all students should consider it. This doesn’t mean all students should do it, however. Students who were young in high school may find it is a great opportunity to grow up a bit, catch up in age to fellow students and gain some perspective before heading back to school. Students who want to take some time before going back to school should do it, but students who feel they are coming off a lot of momentum and want to keep going right after high school should keep at it! A gap year is a very personal decision that each student must make based on their personality and goals. Most schools let you defer application for a year, so applying during senior year still works, but writing about what you did on a gap year makes a great application essay too. Applying to colleges before you leave gives you the security that you know you have somewhere to go when you get back, but when you do get back, consider applying to those reach schools you didn’t get into the first time round. Maybe they will like you better after you’ve had your eyes opened in the real world.
Taking a year off between high school and college could be an intelligent decision. The student would have time to become more mature and might have a better idea of the study direction he/she would like to pursue and the kind of school that would be a good “fit”. During that year there would be a chance to earn money to help with college expenses. Another advantage to a gap year would be the possibility for the student to participate in a volunteer experience domestically or in another country for an extended period, to focus on learning a foreign language, or otherwise to broaden his/her personal experience. There should be a “plan”, though. Taking the year off to just hang around the house playing computer games is not a legitimate plan!
A well utilized and spent GAP year can be a wonderful opportunity for a student to mature and explore his/her options. However, before you are off on your year of exploration or social service or work experience or whatever your well-laid plans might be, apply to college. Yes, while you are still in high school and you have the support of your guidance counselor and the resources of the school at your disposal, apply to college. You can always request a deferment from your college of choice after you have been accepted–and you may decide that you want to take that GAP year at a later date and start college in the Fall after all.
More and more students are opting for a “gap year” between high school and college.
Taking a year off to work and save money, travel, intern, or complete community service, can be beneficial in helping a student mature, gain a better sense of career options and a more global persepective on life and work. A year off is a great option for a student who is movitvated and determined to go to college, but wants or needs more time before college starts. There are multiple companies that help to organize gap years. Just to name a few… www.ciee.org/hsabroad
www.gapyearprograms.net I would also look and see if any of the local high schools near you offer gap year fairs, where you can speak to representatives from mutliple programs.
if you are missionary and you must serve the church of your choice for one year, it is not a bad idea of taking a year off before college.
if you are simply wanting to take a year off for emotional reasons or health reason, then you better do so withou hesitation.
in general, students do not take a year off to save money. you may not return to college as you expected the second year. a lot of things can happen in between.
It is certainly not uncommon for students to wait a year before starting college. Depending on the situation, some may do it for financial reasons, others because they just aren’t ready developmentally, or family circumstances prevent attending right away. Some students may apply and then request to defer their admission for a year. Others may use the year off to explore an interest/passion, maybe through a Gap Year program. There is no rule about when you must begin college, so figure out what makes sense for you and trust your decision.
Taking a gap year to learn from any number of valuable experiences is something many more high school students should consider.
Sure! Unless you are headed for Yale. I met with a counselor at Yale in the spring and asked about their gap year policy. In return, I was met with horror at the suggestion. In her words, “We only want the top students.” Since when did a student who has an interest in the world and life and something other than the classroom become something less than a “top student?” There are wonderful opportunities out there for students who want a break to give them perspective on their challenges (personal and otherwise), explore their interests, and learn more about themselves before jumping into their studies in a more directed and meaningful way. Community service in the U.S. or abroad; wilderness exploration; academic-subject focused; travel; work; and many more opportunities for personal, spiritual, intellectual, and social growth are available to students who seek a way of moving forward that is meaningful to them and not to an institution. I worked with a student once who came to my office mid-senior year of high school. He told me that he would like a deferral so he could backpack around Europe for a year. This student had straight As in a strong college program and outstanding SATs. He was admissible just about everywhere. Now, after some conversation, I discovered that his girlfriend had just dumped him. Basically his desire was to escape the possibility of running into her. I told him to go for it. “It will be the best learning experience you’ve ever had, and you will no doubt encounter many more girls who will get your mind off of her. Just don’t do anything stupid or dangerous. And keep in touch.” So off to Europe he went. And what an experience he had. Great kid. Great success. Why not?
Yes! In England it is part of one’s education to take a year off between high school and university. Volunteer, work, travel. Is there a huge rush to get to college? No. You do go through the regular application process and then defer for a year at the college of your choice. If you need financial aid, it is a great idea to join Americorps for a year. For that year of service you will receive $4800.00 for each year you go to college. If you choose a college that matches the Americorps gift, you will get $9600.00 per year for 4 years of college! Check out the opportunities at www.americorps.gov.
I am a big fan of gap years, particularly for boys. That being said, what a student does during a gap year is important. Personally, I like the British model where students spend a year supporting themselves and travelling rather than “doing” a program. As many countries still require boys to do military service, this is another option as there is never a convenient time to do one’s military service.
Sure! Unless you are headed for Yale. I met with a counselor at Yale in the spring and asked about their gap year policy. In return, I was met with horror at the suggestion. In her words, “We only want the top students.” Since when did a student who has an interest in the world and life and something other than the classroom become something less than a “top student?” There are wonderful opportunities out there for students who want a break to give them perspective on their challenges (personal and otherwise), explore their interests, and learn more about themselves before jumping into their studies in a more directed and meaningful way. Community service in the U.S. or abroad; wilderness exploration; academic-subject focused; travel; work; and many more opportunities for personal, spiritual, intellectual, and social growth are available to students who seek a way of moving forward that is meaningful to them and not to an institution. I worked with a student once who came to my office mid-senior year of high school. He told me that he would like a deferral so he could backpack around Europe for a year. This student had straight As in a strong college program and outstanding SATs. He was admissible just about everywhere. Now, after some conversation, I discovered that his girlfriend had just dumped him. Basically his desire was to escape the possibility of running into her. I told him to go for it. “It will be the best learning experience you’ve ever had, and you will no doubt encounter many more girls who will get your mind off of her. Just don’t do anything stupid or dangerous. And keep in touch.” So off to Europe he went. No overly scheduled first-year experience programs desperate for his attention and making him nuts. No confusing campus social interaction. No academic pressure cooker. And what an experience he had. Great kid. Great success. Why not?
Yes, the gap year is very appealing to students and colleges as the graduated high school senior can be comforted with a place at their chosen university, yet enjoy the freedom to explore some academic, religious, political or social need and endeavors that may end up providing them the chance to become a stronger and more focused student.
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