Not Ready for College? Consider a Gap Year
You know that there are plenty of reasons why college is a good idea: but what if you just don’t feel ready for it? It happens. After 12 years of school and the stress of college admissions, we want you to know about an option you may not be familiar with – the gap year!
What is a Gap Year?
Gap year, bridge year, lap year — whatever you call it, it’s gaining a bit of momentum here in the states (over in the UK and Australia, it’s rather common).
A gap year is a period of time (usually one year) that graduated high school students take off before entering college to pursue other interests. By other interests, My College Guide means things like work, whether internship or paid, community service abroad, or educational programs.
What gap year isn’t is an excuse to flop on the sofa station-flipping for the year before college begins or to infinitely put off beginning that first semester of college.
Why Do Students Take a Gap Year?
Why travel or work for a year before college? Well, for some students it’s a time to blow off some steam, to try their hand at volunteering or travel abroad. You know, to grow in maturity and gain life experience before college and books and studying. It lets students de-stress from the pressures of that last hectic year of high school while pursuing a worthwhile venture that makes college admissions happy.
Some students take the opportunity to work and save up a bit of money to either help pay for college or at least help pay for college expenses. They might choose a job or internship that relates to their major in college, to gain skills that will not only help them look good on a college application (and help make sure that their prospective career path is the right one for them), but prepares them for their future and that looks great on a resume!
Ivy League and The Gap Year
Harvard University wants students to consider taking a year off to avoid “burn-out.” Yale University takes the same stance, listing ways that students can get involved and further their out of school education.
With the pressures of college admission combined with 12 continuous years of schooling, it’s no wonder that Ivy League schools are not only acknowledging the gap year as a valid choice – they are actually encouraging students to take one!
Princeton University has what they term a “Bridge Year” Program in place for accepted students to travel to places like India, Ghana, Serbia, and Peru for nine months to volunteer their time while immersing themselves in a foreign culture. You can actually follow along in the Gap Year experiences of these soon-to-be Princeton University students by reading Updates from the Field.
The Next Step
If you find yourself considering a Gap Year, know that it is only beneficial to you (and will look good on a college resume) if you do something character-building and note-worthy. Apply to college, get that acceptance, and then ask for a one-year deferral, letting them know your plans. Plus, if you had traveled abroad and really enjoyed it, most colleges have study abroad programs in place – so there’s a good chance you’d be able to head back!