It’s time for parents in the U.S. to realize the benefits of sending their kids off for a gap year before college.
They’ve done it for decades in the UK and Australia, but for some reason many parents in America are unaware of this possibility, or fear this may lead to:
- waste of time
- waste of money
- a kid who refuses to go to college after their gap year
Well I disagree, and here’s why.
Your child has been learning in school for about thirteen years straight. He’s burnt out. He’s not sure what he wants to study, but as a parent, we prefer him to get into college right away so he doesn’t miss an opportunity to get a degree. Everything is so competitive that we believe if we don’t act now our kid will never get in. Wrong. In fact, Princeton encourages a gap year. Harvard’s a big fan too, and so is Tufts and MIT.
So why are some of the most prestigious universities in the nation urging students to consider something that would make most parents cringe? “Better-prepared students mean higher completion rates. And it’s completion that matters,” according to the article, “Should your child have a ‘gap year’ before college?” With nearly 30% of all students who enter college not returning for their sophomore year, and three out of five students not finishing their degree in four years, parents and students are potentially “wasting” a ton of money.
Of course, all parents want their kids to succeed, but not all kids are ready for college; some like Rebecca in this video below, aren’t sure what they want to study and end up wasting an extra year or two switching majors. This turns out to be even more expensive in the long-run than had she taken a year off (which she did) and discovered what she wanted to do with her life.
So what can a student do during their gap year?
- Volunteer abroad
Usually a gap year involves travel abroad, volunteering and work experience as well as internships.
Global volunteer network: Is an example of a non profit organization which places volunteers in community projects worldwide.
Rebecca, a young student in the video, says she had no clue what she wanted to study after graduating high-school and her gap year working on projects in Romania and Ghana, taught her life skills and offered so many opportunities when she returned home.
The benefits of a gap year to a student:
- Experience the world
- Meet another culture
- Grow as a person
- Discover yourself
- Open your mind to other possibilities
The gap year is not just for 18-year-olds graduating high school. In the onlineathens, Smith, 23, had a year off before starting medical school and decided to ride in the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race — a 2,745-mile run from Banff, Canada, to a border station near Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Smith and his friend Giannini finished the race in 17 days, 22 hours and raised more than $4,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.
“There’s not a lot of times in your life when you have the time and you’re still in good enough physical shape to do something like this. Most of the time we were basically out of contact, so we couldn’t have any real responsibilities, like families or jobs that we had to take care of. But it was worth it.”
For those of you looking for information on what your student can do during a gap years, Education.com offers helpful tips and links.
So what do you think of a gap year for students? Any experience you want to share?
What about for adults? Please stay tuned. That will be in a future post.