Gap Years After College

Gap years can help

By Jessica Gross

Just like their parents, many graduates-to-be are considering Plan B. The traditional route leads high school graduates straight to college, and college graduates straight to a 9-to-5. But more than in years past, high school and college seniors are warming to the idea of a gap year — a year in which they step off the racetrack of life and do something wild.

The New York Times points out that this year’s high school grads could save bundles of money by putting off college for a year. First, student loans and grants may be larger next year. And second, a family’s financial aid increases if children are in school simultaneously, so waiting to overlap with younger sibs could be a boon.

College students, too, are considering the gap year alternative, especially as the job market becomes increasingly bleak. “[W]hile 2009 is not the most opportune year to leap into the ‘real world,’ some seniors are getting creative with their post-graduation plans and looking elsewhere to expand their resumes,” writes Northeastern University’s Jackie Pearce.

Besides the financial benefits, gap years can be plain fun. Why not take the chance to volunteer at a clinic in Uganda, or learn Spanish in Latin America, or get that bartending job you’ve always dreamed about? Soon enough, you’ll be back on the racetrack.