Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Gap Year

This article appeared in the NY Times about a young woman who took a year off after high school. It was interesting because she first said she wanted it to concentrate on her studies senior year (and not trying to get into college) and also because she wanted to try two different things during her gap year. From the article,

"In the fall of my senior year, I contacted the Center for Interim Programs, a company that arranges gap-year programs for students.I knew I wanted to go to a country where I hadn’t been before, and I designed a program with its help. I spent the first half of that year helping villagers in Ghana and the second half studying art history in Italy. My four months in Ghana turned out to be a defining experience. It introduced me to the field of international development."

"That experience was the biggest challenge I’d ever had — emotionally, intellectually and physically, but it was also the most rewarding.

After Ghana, I went home for a month and then studied art history in Venice for three months. I was glad for the opportunity, but art history was more an avocation. I wasn’t drawn to it the way I was to the work in Ghana."

There are other ways to take a gap year (this way, obviously has costs involved). AmeriCorp or the Peace Corps are others.


TechyMom said...

There's even value to taking a year off to work in a pizza place and hang out with your friends. This was common and even encouraged when I graduated from high school in the 80s. Save a little money, relax, be a kid for the last time, etc. It also lets you see what the work world is like without a degree, which can be pretty motivating to get one, stave off burnout, and have enough of a break that school is exciting again.

Personally, I don't think it needs to be some big enriching experience to be valueable. It's the same as letting your kids play in the back yard instead of going to a million different activities. Down time is good for people, especially kids.

SolvayGirl said...

I am just curious as to how difficult it may, or may not, be to get accepted to a 4-year college as a Freshman after taking a year off. Does anyone have the stats on this?

hschinske said...

I think most people get accepted first, and then defer admission. But it's certainly possible to do it the other way: see http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/archives/can-my-son-defer-college-applications-to-gap-year.htm

Helen Schinske

TechyMom said...

Most of the kids I knew who did this (including myself) went to community college and tranferred to 4-year schools as juniors. That was also strongly encouraged at the time. Not sure how well that work with the Iveys, but it works great for State schools.