Authored by Jackie Acosta in College Education
Published on 11-20-2008
Thinking of taking a break before heading out to college? Welcome to the growing number of students who consider taking their gap year. The gap year is better known as the “deferred year” or the year off that students take from their education in order to travel or give themselves time to think. Gap years are usually taken before the start of college or in between semesters—graduates can also take their deferred year when they are in between jobs or major life transitions. This practice is more common for Westerners than it is for their other counterparts.
It is only recently that educational institutions encourage their students to take their gap year before moving on with bigger things, like attending college or setting out to look for a new job. These establishments believe that the gap year is not actually encouraging students to forego their education, but rather, help them make better decisions and motivate them to work towards their goals in life. By exploring on things that interest them or introducing them to new concepts, cultures, and way of life, they are expanding their knowledge and in turn, getting to know themselves better.
There are different things a student can do during their gap year. Various organizations and even universities have programs to encourage students to make the most out of their gap year. Students can now choose from foreign exchange programs in other countries, paid or unpaid volunteer work in developing countries, or even enroll in recreational courses such as arts, theater, etc in various places. The gap year is all about taking a vacation from the academic life in order to pursue interests to balance their lives and prevent from early burn-outs. Students have the opportunity to discover themselves—get room for them to grow and discover what they want to do in life, find inspiration to motivate them to achieve their goals, and open more doors in their world.
Parents should not worry that these children who opt to defer a year of their education may forget about completing their academic work later on–in fact, most case studies prove the opposite. When gap years are taken with the right intentions and planned out very well, the students tend to become more driven to study and they excel in their academics. Colleges also lend their support by providing courses and encouraging students to enroll first then take the year off–assuring them that it is indeed okay to defer a year without risking their place in the university. All these are factors that will assure any parent their children will not drop out of college if they choose to take a gap year.
Gap years aren’t really a vacation or an escape from responsibilities–it’s actually a chance for students to take in experiences that they can learn from and use it to further themselves later on in life. More than anything, a gap year can teach a student to be confident that he or she can do anything–which includes, getting a college education.