The Advantages of Taking a Year Off Between High School and College
Not all high school students are academically and emotionally ready to start college immediately upon graduation. While high-achieving students may need a “gap” year to de-stress and learn about themselves instead of how to achieve a 4 or a 5 on an Advanced Placement exam, other students need a year to mature, decide what they want to study, and learn the responsibility that only comes from holding down a full-time job or volunteering daily for a service project.
Students who pursue gap-year programs benefit enormously from the experience, embarking on college with a genuine excitement for learning and an appreciation for the incredible privilege of attaining a bachelor’s degree. While parents worry that once their offspring steps out of the academic world they will lose interest in college, most students are reinvigorated about learning. In addition, most jobs that are attainable today with only a high school diploma offer neither the glamour nor paycheck that will capture the interest of someone truly interested in an education and advancing in the world.
William Fitzwilliams, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, makes a case for a Gap Year in an article posted on Harvard’s website (http://admissions.college.harvard.edu/apply/time_off/index.html).Most college officials share Mr. Fitzwilliams’ enthusiasm for students taking a year off, and as a result are willing to defer an accepted student’s admission to college for a year as long as the student has a legitimate plan for that time.
The Gap-Year Advantage identifies low-cost programs as well as money-saving tips for families concerned about costs. The following list provides additional resources for students considering taking time off.