In the USA, taking a Gap Year is a fairly foreign concept, but in other countries, the UK, Australia, and some of the EU nations, it’s long been considered a rite of passage to delay advanced academic studies to spend a year in the world focused on experiential education, internship, volunteer work, personal development, and gaining that all important real world experience to round out the classroom learning.
Business Insider cites Robert Clagett, a former senior admissions official at Harvard. He says that students who take gap years, like Miss Obama, “will frequently be more mature, more focused, and more aware of what they want to do with their college education” when they do enroll in college.
And the data reflects his observations: At Middlebury, researchers found that students who took a gap year have shown a “clear pattern” of attaining higher GPA’s than those that didn’t take gap years, even controlling for the student’s performance in high school.”
Why a Gap Year?
- 90 percent of students who took a Gap Year returned to college within a year.
- Students who have taken a Gap Year overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs.
- For most students, gap experiences have an impact on their choice of academic major and career.
- In 2010, young adults ages 25–34 with a bachelor’s degree earned 114 percent more than young adults without a high school diploma or its equivalent, 50 percent more than young adult high school completers, and 22 percent more than young adults with an associate’s degree.
- Gap Year students are perceived to be ‘more mature, more self-reliant and independent’ than non-Gap Year students.
- 88 percent of Gap Year graduates report that their Gap Year had significantly added to their employability.
The take home message: Gap Years are great for students and they’re on the rise for American students.
A Gap Year on Every Resume
Gap Year Costs
For example, low income and first-generation college students can sometimes arrive at college academically unprepared and with additional stressors that unfortunately lead to high dropout rates.
According to experts, creating access to support networks and developing life skills are known to improve retention and graduation rates. Promoting a fully-funded, mentored experiential program aimed at preparing students for college would undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for these students once they arrive on campus. There are already several programs in place that offer financial aid and fill this niche (such as Global Citizen Year, Dynamy Internship Year and Carpe Mundi).”
Joanna Nesbit wrote, for the Washington Post, about a host of options for young people seeking to lower the cost of a Gap Year and create affordable options for themselves, from volunteer and internship options, to scholarships, consultants and lower cost programs.
The Travel Access Project is a growing, open-source project at the intersection of education and adventure that will deepen the travel learning experience of any journey, completely for free.
The good news is that there are options for motivated students, regardless of family income.
Creating Your Gap Year
Look for a blend of cohort style, mentored learning experiences with work, volunteering, or internship in addition to an adventure to ensure that all of the bases are covered and a student grows forward in a supported manner.
Spend time, up front, considering your goals and interests and how to use the time available for your Gap Year. The most satisfying outcomes are the result of careful planning and leveraging the resources within your family, your community, and the best of what’s out there on the web.
Want to read more about Gap Year Travel? Check out the articles below: