Gap years after high school create engaged students

Gap years after high school create engaged students

This fall, a whopping 20.4 million students will be attending colleges and universities. Alongside the back-to-school goers, there are a growing number of students who are choosing to take a gap year in between graduating high school and entering college.

The expanding trend of taking a year off of traditional studies is leaving many parents uncertain and uneasy. The main concern for parents and administrators is that once a student takes a year off, they won’t ever return to college. Of course, an unstructured and unmotivated year off will do no good and leave many basement-dwellers stuck in a rut. But, many students are making good out of a gap year.

The motivation to take a gap year influences 34% of students, and the motivating reason can vary. Many take advantage of the year to work, travel, or volunteer. From gaining real life experiences and exploring passions, students return to school mature and evidently engaged in their studies. Robert Clagett, the former senior admissions officer at Harvard and former dean of admissions at Middlebury College, saw a higher GPA in students that took a gap year than students who jumped right into school. AGA, a nonprofit that accredits gap year programs, conducted a study that found 90% of students returning that had a structured gap year have higher grades than the average student.

A deliberate and motivated gap year is the key to success. Students who are engaged in programs will not suddenly lose their study skills or motivation. A valuable way to ensure that motivation will continue to flow is to apply to colleges, but defer enrollment. Colleges like Princeton and the University of North Carolina offer special scholarships and fellowships for incoming freshman who took a gap year. Even the hailed Harvard University encourages gap years.

Alongside all the facts and numbers, there is a problem with the college system. Fresh out of an institution, many kids face the challenge of figuring out what is right for them.

“Instead of jumping leapfrog from major to major once in a university, kids have the option to explore career opportunities.”

With many adults saying that they matured in college, it would be beneficial to find oneself before college. Entering college matured and able to adapt real-life experiences creates an easy transition to structure, studying and living on one’s own.

A gap year ultimately gives students the time and space to explore or refine their interests before entering college. There is a twist in the college game when kids are raised to think for themselves, but then are shoved on a rushed path that might not be right for them.