11 February 2017
Why High School Students Need to Take a Gap Year Before College
‘Should high school students
take a gap year before entering college or university?’ This has been a topic that has been debated by academics, sociologists, psychologists, and many other professions alike for centuries. Although not all universities
allow gap years, those that do, allow students to take a gap year upon a request by the student for delaying entry for one to two years as long as he/she explains what he/she plans to do during the year (Yen, Hope). Some universities such as Harvard
even encourage their students to take a gap year, just as President Barack Obama’s daughter - Malia did earlier this year upon which she was required to provide updates to Harvard to show that her activities continue to serve as an interest to the university (Rubenstone, Sally). Other universities and colleges such as Princeton
and University of North Carolina
even offer scholarships for students who take gap years (Hoder, Randye). While the concept started in Europe, it has been gaining popularity and growing in trend in the US (Yen, Hope). According to American Gap Association based in Oregon, US, its’ surveys revealed that approximately 30,000 to 40,000 students take a year off between high school
and college and the trend increased by 22% from the year 2014 to 2015 (Yen, Hope). Many arguments have been made for and against this practice.
of the arguments against gap years for students is that it will be too costly financially and will be a waste of year in which the student could have otherwise made better use of (Hoder, Randye). However, taking gap years have most often proven that students do not necessarily have to be cash-strapped during their college years if they decide to work during the gap year (Rubenstone, Sally). Even if they take up volunteer experience, it is still possible to earn money such as with Americorps, WWOOF-USA, or CityYear - all of which offers to pay for room and board.
have also argued that taking a gap year is “technically procrastinating” and that high school seniors today do not actually do much - especially if they are already admitted into college. This makes high school seniors even less motivated to do things or explore extracurricular activities during their gap year and will just
be sitting around, being lazy which will encourage them to want to keep putting school off until it is too late (“Should Students Take A Gap Year?”). The concern is basically that a detour from college or university such as via taking a gap year may or will lead to long-term derailment and will not go back to college or university - this can especially be frightening for parents who carefully cultivated a system of cradle-to-college. As a mother phrased about her 18 year old high school daughter’s decision to take a gap year explained, as parents this is not what you expect,” says Abbe Levin” (Hoder, Randye). While this is a legitimate concern - one that is carried by most parents and even some students, and while this is definitely a possibility, past records have shown that high school seniors becoming lazy is not as likely as some might imagine it to be. Most students taking gap years turn out more eager to return to college
rather than dropping out of academia entirely. As a matter of fact, it turns out that those who took gap years typically enters college or university feeling more recharged and focused as they come in with a better understanding of what they want to do and what they do not want to do. Jeffrey Selingo, an author of the book “There Is Life After College” states that “students come away much more mature and take their studies more seriously, and they are more assured of what they want to do major wise” (Hoder, Randye). Universities have even claimed that these students turn out to be better leaders and are more engaged as well as motivated (Hoder, Randye). Taking gap years serve to provide high school seniors a chance to take a breath from academia and pursue or try something that does not require them to ask whether x, y, z will help their college application look better and allows them to also just do something for the pure love of doing it or for simple curiosity. This experience has led these high school seniors
to even perform better both academically and in taking on leadership roles once they return to academia and start their first semester in college or university. Robert Clagett - a senior admissions officer at Harvard
and former dean of admissions
at Middlebury College
stated that those who entered college or university after taking one year off scored on average 0.15 to 0.2 higher in GPA than those who went directly from high school to college (Hoder, Randye).
conclusion, there are both pros and cons to taking gap years. Some argue that taking gap years can be too costly, can be considered a procrastination, and can increase the possibility of dropping out of academia completely due to laziness. However, amidst these concerns there are many more supporters of gap year as past experiences have shown students
that takes gap years can actually help them financially depending on what they decide to during the year, and students who take gap years turned out to be more successful both in leadership roles and in grades as they feel more refreshed and have a clearer goal of what they want to do. While gap years are not for everyone as every high school senior has their own timeline, what is most important is to understand what he/she needs and to understand that if approached correctly, gap years can actually prove to be very beneficial.
Hoder, Randye. "Why Your High School Senior Should Take A Gap Year".TIME.Com, 2014, http://time.com/97065/gap-year-college/.
Rubenstone, Sally. "Pros And Cons Of Gap Year - Ask The Dean". Ask The Dean,2017, http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/000308/.
"Should Students Take A Gap Year?". Debate.Org
Yen, Hope. "5 Things To Know About A Gap Year, When Students Take Time Off". PBS Newshour, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/5-things-to-know-about-a-gap-year-when-students-take-time-off/.